Groening told Smithsonian magazine, published online Tuesday, that he was inspired by the television show “Father Knows Best,” which took place in a place called Springfield. Springfield, Oregon, is 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Groening’s hometown of Portland. “When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name,” Groening told the magazine. “I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the US. “In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’ And they do,” he said.
Groening said he has long given fake answers when asked about the Simpsons’ hometown, leaving open the possibility that his latest one is itself another fake. The show has made a running joke of hiding the true Springfield’s location. In one episode, daughter Lisa points to Springfield on a map, but the animated “camera view” is blocked by son Bart’s head. The series has been on the air for 22 years, becoming the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated program and a cultural phenomenon with colleges devoting courses to studying it. People in the real Springfield -- the one in Oregon -- took on the mantle of the show’s hometown after Groening visited during a tour before the 2007 film “The Simpsons Movie.”
Back then, tiny Springfield, Vermont, beat out 13 other like-named cities, including the one in Oregon, to host the movie premiere. The cities submitted videos meant to connect themselves to the fictional Springfield. When Springfield, Oregon, community-relations manager Niel Laudati was told about Groening’s announcement, he said: “Oh OK, we knew that.”