Urban Legends

How Tarzana Got Its Name

The Legend

In 1910, Edgar Rice Burroughs purchased a huge amount of land in Southern California's San Fernando Valley. On this land he built a ranch where he could make a living and still have the peace he needed to write his works of fiction. Years later, Burroughs' land became the community of Tarzana, named after the title character of his Tarzan novels.

Behind the Legend

The story of how Tarzana got its name is as stated above. It is, in fact, not unusual for a city or other large entity of land to be named after something in a beloved piece of literature, as can be seen from a few more examples.


Named for

Great Falls, Minnesota

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Main Street (numerous examples;
see also Tobacco Road)

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Odessa, Texas The Odyssey by Homer

Orange County, California

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Oslo, Norway

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Balm

Santa's Village, California

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (anagram)

Sargasso Sea, North Atlantic Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Tequila Flats, New Mexico

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Tucson, Arizona

The Son Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway

Winesburg, Ohio

Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson

Earth, Sol system Battlefield Earth, by L. Ron Hubbard

Honorable mention:
Fire Island, New York

Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

Literature has been the inspiration for other items as well. For example, back when telephone exchanges were used instead of area codes, CAtch 22 and FArehneit 451 were a popular phone numbers.And there are numerous business whose names are literary references, such as the Lord of the Fries restaurant, The Hairy Potter ceramics workshop, and carpet store Atlas Rugged.

Of course, literature also refers to itself. It's a little known fact that Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind was named for The Scarlet Letter. And the main character in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club was named for the main character in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.

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