Glendale has the distinction of being the fourth largest city in Los Angeles County, the birthplace of Baskin Robbins, home of the historic Alex Theatre and where the first scheduled transcontinental passenger service was flown out by Charles Lindbergh, but, as anyone who has typed “Glendale” in their Google search box knows, it is just one of many across the U.S.
For a writer looking to find story ideas, this can be incredibly frustrating. Stumbling upon an amazing event or personality in Glendale, Colo. or Glendale, Penn. instead of the city California is pretty disappointing.
I've been wondering what exactly is happening in the other “Glendales” across the U.S. ever since I took a drive up to Oregon last year and wondered how I ended up back in “Glendale” after hundreds of miles.
This year so far, I've developed a habit of looking them up, trying to see the similarities our “twin” cities share, and the differences that distinguish us from one another. It's entertaining and a good distraction from work to see what alternate reality other Glendales are living.
For example, Glendale, Ariz., coincidentally the home of the 2015 Super Bowl, was once named one of the top 10 antique centers in the country by USA Today. In 2009, it became home to a spring training facility for the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. In not so cheerful news, a recent firm hired to assess the city's government structure told the City Council that Glendale, Ariz. “has a culture of low accountability and low morale,” the Arizona Republic reported.
Further north, Glendale, Ore. hosts a population of less than 1,000 and has implemented a pioneering prekindergarten class to all children regardless of income, local news has reported.
In Ohio, the Village of Glendale was incorporated in 1855. It is the only village designated as a National Historic Landmark in the state. It is also home to one of the only places that has a large population of black squirrels. To honor them, 25 fiberglass statues of squirrels can be found around town.
Meanwhile, Glendale, Colo., under the leadership of Mayor Mike Dunafon, a “pro-2nd Amendment, pro-gay marriage and pro-choice” former NFL player became the first state to adopt rugby as the official sport of the city and is now known as “Rugbytown USA.”
And if you thought Glendales were just in the U.S., there's also one in Northumberland, England. The area was apparently the inspiration for “Greendale,” the setting for a cult classic British children's stop-motion animation television series, “Postman Pat.”
Last year, the Glendale, Northumberland community began a project called “A Living Encyclopedia of Sheep,” where they hoped to regenerate the economy in their area and tap into the local knowledge and resources with sheep and its products.
There are of course, so many other Glendales that I've yet to discover, including ones in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Texas and a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. So far, though, none have trumped “The Jewel City” in terms of culture, diversity and trivia. I mean, it was in our Glendale where Amelia Earhart bought her first plane, after all.
--LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Paste magazine, New America Media, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached at email@example.com.