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Now that FXX is showing an unprecedented 12 day marathon of every episode of the Simpsons ever, it feels like the fictional town of Springfield is truly, in the echoing words of Marge Simpson, a part of us all. A part of us all. A part of us all!

But what is Springfield, and what makes it so special?

The writers have never definitively placed Springfield in any state.  Fans have studied the show for clues to guess where it might be located, but I think it’s more fun that it could be anywhere in the United States.  That gives much greater flexibility for storylines, as the geography of the town can be changed as needed.  The terrain includes mountains, badlands, a national forest, and a harbor to either the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, depending on the episode.  Springfield is a small, suburban town, but it also somehow seems to have everything: a university, a prison, an airport, a nuclear power plant, and even a giant SPRINGFIELD on the hills overlooking the town.  It’s everything for everyone, and that’s what makes it so inviting for the viewer.

Panoramic screenshot of Springfield from The Simpsons Movie (released 2007, by 20th Century Fox, via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Springfield_(The_Simpsons).png)

There are so many unique places that put the spring in Springfield, and it’s difficult to fit them all in one view.  But two ambitious fans, Jerry Lerma and Terry Hogan, set out to do just that by creating a Map of Springfield.  Completed in 2004, this seems like a fairly accurate depiction, including both regular settings (like the Kwik-E-Mart and Springfield Elementary) and locations that only appeared in one episode (like Bart’s loft, from when he temporarily emancipated himself from his parents).  Look up and down the streets and each block provides a memory from the show, from the Escalator to Nowhere where people got on only to unwittingly fall off at the top, to Dead Weasel Road out in the badlands where Marge had a run-in with some of Springfield’s gangsters (yes, this town even has a mafia).  Check out the map for yourselves:

Map of Springfield, by Jerry Lerma and Terry Hogan (via http://helpasneeded-cleaning.com/?attachment_id=5)

I’ve spent so much time watching episodes of the Simpsons growing up, that Springfield almost feels like a second hometown.  I’m proud of all the landmarks, and even the failures.  If those Shelbyvillians come to steal our Lemon Tree again, I’ll be the first one over the border to take it back from the car impound lot, that impenetrable fortress of suburbia. (I think you can tell by now that “Lemon of Troy” is one of my all-time favorite episodes.)

For more on the marathon, you can go here: http://www.fxx.com/thesimpsons.  If you, like me, don’t get the channel FXX, they are also launching a site in the fall called Simpsons World, where every episode will be available for streaming.  It’s a great time to be a Simpsons fan!