Small World

There is just one spot on earth from which, in an hour’s driving time or less, a motoring tourist can reach either Athens, Belfast, Belgrade, Bremen, China, Denmark, Dresden, Frankfort, Limerick, Lisbon, Madrid, Mexico, Naples, Norway, Oxford, Palermo, Paris, Peru, Poland or Vienna. The spot is situated at about 44° 9′ north latitude, 69° 51′ west longitude, in the county of Sagadahoc, state of Maine, U.S.A., and it is surrounded by towns bearing these names, no one of them more than fifty-five miles away.

— Gary Jennings, Personalities of Language, 1965

On a board in front of a stage-office in Buffalo, I once read, ‘Stages start from this house for China, Sardinia, Holland, Hamburg, Java, Sweden, Cuba, Havre, Italy, and Penn Yan.’

— James Freeman Clarke, On Giving Names to Towns and Streets, 1880

Low Profile

No building in Washington, D.C., is taller than the Washington Monument.

The city enacted a height restriction in 1899 to protect Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an “American Paris” with “low and convenient” buildings on “light and airy” streets.


Weirton, W.Va., is the only town in the United States that borders two different states on opposite sides.

The town borders Ohio directly on the west and Pennsylvania on the east.


Between 1963 and 1987, a tortoiseshell cat named Towser caught an estimated 28,899 mice in Scotland’s Glenturret Distillery. (Mice like barley.) Her prowess earned her a bronze statue and a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Her paw prints appeared on each bottle of Fairlie’s Light Highland Liqueur.