Saturday, June 10, 2017

Local Saturday - And Bingo Is Our Name-O

One of my regular readers, a man of high intelligence and impeccable taste (of course-he reads my blog!) expressed his disappointment with yesterday's post.

He was looking forward to an explanation of why one of the nicknames of Binghamton, New York, a small city upstate where I work, is "Bingo".

Another of my regular readers (a woman of high intelligence and impeccable taste...) expressed surprise about our Bingo nickname. 

So, my response to my dear readers is: No, I don't know why Bingo is our name-o.  But I know it could be worse, given all the New York City residents who spell our name with a "p", thinking we are part of The Hamptons.

I fondly remember the children's song Bingo Was His Name-O.  It was a great song to sing on long trips, along with "99 Bottles of Beer".  (OK, I grew up in a different era) But, if you listen to the song:  nothing about Binghamton.

Also, our nickname doesn't have anything to do with the game of Bingo.  In fact, our nickname came before the game became popular, according to the small amount of research available online. I don't think the game was named after us, either. Rather, Bingo is a game originating in Italy.  When it came to the United States, it was originally called Beano.  

The story goes that the name was changed to Beano after someone yelled out "Bingo" when he or she won, rather than "Beano".  I wonder if that Bingo yeller was from Binghamton.

One blogger said the Bingo nickname came from an early 20th century marketing campaign.  But I knew there was a minor league baseball team in Binghamton called the Bingos, and they were playing as early as 1885.  This online article describes their 1887 season.
Building Mural, Chenango Street, downtown Binghamton, NY
I could call the Broome County historian and ask, but that would be too simple.  So I will leave it to my readers - does anyone know the origin of Binghamton's Bingo nickname?

One parting note: A more common nickname for Binghamton (no "P") in the late 19th and early 20th century was "The Parlor City".  That is worth a blog post for another time.

Does your city have a nickname?


  1. I knew it was the Parlor City- because back when it was started, the downtown area had a meretricious appeal (sic)- as it high aspirations....

  2. Well at least we know what it is not! That is something. :)

  3. Being 57 that song can life one spirit..Love it
    Coffee is on

  4. Quite a lot of info here.. strange how names are formed over a course of time...

  5. Well, I got curious and Googled. Check out this site
    There is a reference to 'Bingo' with no explanation. I wonder if it was a typo?

  6. Rats! Milk River completely missed the boat in nicknames. Hmmm... How about The-Town-Where-Diane-Grew-Up? Something shorter? Okay.. The-Home-Of-The-Great-Elevator-Fire? Oops. longer. Okay, here's an 'official' one: Under-Seven-Flags. Boring. Sigh.

  7. I did find the origins of "Parlor City," but not exactly of "Bingo." I mean, yes, there was a minor league team by that name, but it seems maybe they'd have been named FOR the town; and in the "Parlor City" history, it appears that the man who nicknamed it that "visited Bingo." Maybe people just got tired of saying Binghamton and shortened it by custom and it stuck? Now you have me curious. If you do call the librarian, let me know?

  8. It makes sort of sense as a shortening of the town name. My city gets abbreviated to LB, but no other nicknames that I can think of. The local university, California State University, Long Beach, is called The Beach. Does that count?


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