The town of Springfield has become a character of its own on the popular animated TV show, serving as the backdrop to the adventures of the Simpson family. But in 23 years on air, the show's creator has kept the real location of the town veiled, saying he didn't want to "ruin it for people" -- until now.
In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine's May issue, Matt Groening revealed that the animated town is based on Springfield, Oregon, near his childhood hometown of Portland.
He also was inspired to use the town's name after it was featured on the 1950s television show "Father Knows Best."
"I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, 'This will be cool; everyone will think it's their Springfield.' And they do," said the show's creator.
The tales of donut-loving father Homer J. Simpson and his dysfunctional family, wife Marge and kids Bart, Lisa and Maggie, have become a staple of American culture, winning 27 Emmy awards, earning a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and even coining a new word as Homer's expression "D'Oh" entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.
The Simpson family are named after Groening's family -- father Homer (named after the Greek poet Homer), mother Margaret and sisters Lisa and Maggie.
Bart is based on the creator himself, although Groening changed the name from 'Matt' to 'Bart' because he "had this idea of an angry father yelling 'Bart,' and Bart sounds kind of like bark—like a barking dog," and he thought it would sound funny.
The inspirations drawn from Oregon didn't just stop at the town name. Groening also said he named some of the characters after streets in Portland, including Reverend Lovejoy, the school bully Kearney and the Simpsons' annoyingly loveable neighbor Ned Flanders.
Even the address that America's favorite animated family live at, 632 Evergreen Terrace, is named after Groening's own childhood home address.
"The Simpsons" was created by Groening for Fox television and first aired in 1989. It is the longest-running American sitcom in history, broadcast in more than 100 countries and 50 languages, and it still attracts an average 7.7 million U.S. viewers weekly.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)