This Landon's Your Land

Aug 23rd 2007

Most of the charts I post here show changes in name usage over time. But you can learn just as much by looking at name usage over space. Plotting name popularity on a geographic map can give you a cultural perspective on the name...and sometimes, give you a naming perspective on the culture. For instance, the Naming Map of the United States I created last year divides the country into stylistic regions different from the demographic-based divisions we're used to seeing.

Today I'd like to share a map of a single name, a name I've been pondering since the state-by-state name rankings were announced in May. The boy's name Landon shows remarkable regional differences across the U.S. A top-five name in some states, it doesn't crack the top 100 in others. The distribution is far from random:


What drives the popularity of Landon in a region? Or to put it another way, what does the popularity of Landon signal about a particular community?

At first glance the map may resemble the most familiar color-coded map of modern times, the red-blue electoral map. The differences are significant, though. Landon appears to be a point of common ground between Texas and Illinois, for instance, and it divides New England into two camps (Connecticut and Massachusetts vs. the rest). The Landon rate does seem to have an inverse relationship to average income, but I have a feeling there's more to the story. So far though, I don't have anything definitive.

What do you see in the map of Landon America? And if you have a son named Landon, what drew you to the name and what kind of reaction have you received?

Comments

1
By Aiea (not verified)
August 23, 2007 5:47 PM

Is there a reason that the upper peninsula of Michigan is a different color than the lower peninsula?

2
By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
August 23, 2007 5:49 PM

Was there ever a soap opera character named Landon? Or maybe a guy on MTV's "Real World?" There is a soccer player named Landon Donovan, and of course Michael Landon, but I can't picture the latter as a major influence on naming trends (or if he were, it would be for the roles he played).

3
By Meegan (not verified)
August 23, 2007 5:54 PM

Interesting post! I've only known one Landon; he's about 28 now and from WA state. It does have that "n" ending that everybody is so crazy about these days.

4
By Erin (not verified)
August 23, 2007 6:15 PM

Hmmm. I've also known one Landon. Super nice guy. Mine is 29 and from Texas. His mother is a very successful business woman. I seem to recall his name being a mash up of two other names (Don and something else maybe?). I don't really have any insights on the current distribution.

5
By Em (not verified)
August 23, 2007 6:30 PM

Question: Does/Where does Landon show up internationally? I wonder if looking it its context outside of the US (if there is one to speak of) might give us clues as to how to "read" its context in this country.

6
By Westy (not verified)
August 23, 2007 6:30 PM

Is it possible to graph this at the County level?
My suspicion is that this is just a rural-urban split.
Landon would seem more popular in rural areas.
States such as Illinois and Texas and Florida, while having large population and large cities within, have enough rural counties to see Landon used.
I would also suspect that Landon is almost exclusively a Caucasian name.

7
By ClevelandKentEvans (not verified)
August 23, 2007 6:34 PM

For a division that may be closer to the dreaded "Red vs. Blue State" divide, look at the relative popularity of Jack and Jackson. It seems to me that Jack is more common in the so-called "Blue States" while Jackson is ahead in the "Red States". It's not a perfect divide, but it's close enough to be very interesting.

As for Landon seeming to be a bit less common in Texas than you might expect -- remember that the top 100 names in Texas (as well as California, Arizona, and New Mexico) are heavily impacted by the huge numbers of Hispanics in those states. Landon is probably a name which is NOT very popular with Hispanic parents. I would bet that if you had figures for just the "Anglo White" boys born in Texas, Landon there would look more like Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana in its ranking.

8
By John (not verified)
August 23, 2007 6:54 PM

Is it worth noting that the Landrieus are a well-known political family in Louisiana? (Mary is a senator, her brother Mitch is the lieutenant governor, and their dad was once the mayor of New Orleans.)

9
By Christiana (not verified)
August 23, 2007 7:13 PM

I have always loved the name Landon. I think of both Michael Landon (I was a HUGE Little House fan growing up) and more recently the Nicholas Sparks book (and movie) A Walk to Remember, where the main male was Landon Carter (a good ol' North Carolina boy). It is also the name of one of the author's sons.

10
By Nicholas Beaudrot (not verified)
August 23, 2007 7:35 PM

I thought the rise in Landon corresponded to Landon Donavan's breakout performance in the 2002 world cup. Though it was on the rise before then.

New York, California, and Massachsetts have the three of the largest and most diverse immigrant populations, right? So they are probably choosing from different names.

11
By Nicholas Beaudrot (not verified)
August 23, 2007 7:38 PM

An alternative hypothesis is that Landon is another "working class experiment" name ... as you've pointed out, right now working class parents seem to be going with more experimental names (Dakota, Colton) while upper-middle class parents are going uber-traditional (Jonathan, William, Charles).

12
By Brooke (not verified)
August 23, 2007 7:57 PM

My first association was with Travis Barker (formerly of Blink182), who has a son named Landon. Judging by your map, though, it doesn't seem likely to become a trendy "Hollywood" name.

13
By Zaneeta (not verified)
August 23, 2007 8:24 PM

I'd like to see a corresponding map of Brandon. I wonder what the relationship between their respective popularity is....Maybe the upper middle class who like -andon prefer the traditional name while the working class go for the creative? Hold on...I'm gonna go check the ssa website...

14
By Zaneeta (not verified)
August 23, 2007 9:35 PM

States that rank Landon first (L=Landon, Br=Brandon, followed by ranks):

Alaska: L-37
Br-74

Alabama: L-15
Br-26

Arkansas: L-4
Br-39

Iowa: L-14
Br-55

Idaho: L-39
Br-57

Indiana: L-15
Br-46

Kansas: L-13
Br-71

Kentucky: L-5
Br-43

Louisiana: L-1
Br-28

Maine: L-41
Br-49

Michigan: L-37
Br-43

Minnesota: L-38
Br-54

Missouri: L-13
Br-43

Mississippi: L-11
Br-22

Montana: L-25
Br-54

North Dakota: L-13
Br-x

Nebraska: L-27
Br-52

New Hampshire: L-56
Br-x

Ohio: L-30
Br-39

Oklahoma: L-7
Br-43

South Carolina: L-20
Br-27

South Dakota: L-5
Br-85

Tennessee: L-15
Br-33

Utah: L-34
Br-63

Vermont: L-33
Br-47

West Virginia: L-4
Br-34

Wyoming: L-17
Br-56

15
By melanie (not verified)
August 23, 2007 9:38 PM

I wasn't reading this blog when her naming map came out, but the different styles is something I've noticed from reading the blog here. I think she got it dead on about the Frontier style names. Autumn, Morgan, Ethan, etc are exactly the names I am seeing here. I do know a Sophie and about three Ellas, but there just seems to be many more Austins, Haydens, McKaylas then vintage names still. Maybe the vintige names are coming, however. I grew up in Brasil and remember that we followed the same trends for music, etc, but were several years behind from the US. It would be really intresting to see if trends move much around the United States over time. I'm sure some things don't, such as ethinic naming patterns. Hmmmm.

16
By Zaneeta (not verified)
August 23, 2007 9:41 PM

States that rank Brandon first:

Arizona: Br-34
L-70

California: Br-22
L-x

Colorado: Br-33
L-57

Connecticut: Br-36
L-x

Washington DC: Br-67
L-x

Delaware: Br-33
L-x

Florida: Br-25
L-56

Georgia: Br-15
L-28

Hawaii: Br-33
L-37

Illinois:Br-30
L-70

Mass.: Br-60
L-0

Maryland: Br-25
L-65

NC: Br-28
L-30

NJ: Br-19
L-x

NM: Br-29
L-71

Nevada: Br-18
L-80

NY: Br-22
L-x

OR: Br-61
L-66

Pennsylvania: Br-37
L-49

RI: Br-37
L-78

Texas: Br-24
L-63

Virginia: Br-35
L-43

Washington: Br-49
L-53

Wisconsin: Br-39
L-x

17
By Celia (not verified)
August 23, 2007 9:47 PM

Well I am not sure how Landon fares globally, but it is not a common name in Australia. I couldn't find it in the top 50 names for any state or overall. I think this is probably because we are still more conservative or "traditional" in our baby boys names than in the US (read Anglo-Irish for traditional here, naturally different to "traditional" US. For example on names ending in 'n': Lachlan and Hayden are common names for most age groups, but we dont really do Brandon, and while Jack is currently our most popular name we dont seem to have gone for Jackson as much). The only Landon I know is from the Jasper Fforde books: the Eyre Affair etc.

18
By ClevelandKentEvans (not verified)
August 23, 2007 10:46 PM

The "Landon vs. Brandon" comparison is certainly interesting, but it seems to be very odd to me to call Brandon a "traditional" name. Brandon is a surname transfer just like Landon, and was not used as a given name to any great extent before 1953 when the child actor Brandon DeWilde starred in the film _Shane_. It really took off when another child actor, Brandon Cruz, was on TV's _The Courtship of Eddie's Father_ in the late 1960s. So Brandon is only "traditional" if you think that any name that's been in regular use long enough to be the name of a lot of the fathers of today's infants is "traditional." :)

19
By Catherine (not verified)
August 23, 2007 11:58 PM

I guess this post is true. I live in California and didn't even know Landon was a name until today. But Brandon is also rare, the only Brandon I've ever been aware of is the character from 90210. I always assumed his name and Brenda's were selected because the names represented middle America as opposed to wealthy Beverly Hills. I think the earlier posters are correct that education and socio-economic factors play a larger role in naming than merely geography.

20
By Erica (not verified)
August 24, 2007 12:36 AM

I work in health care in eastern West Virginia. I can think of at least 5 kids named Landon in my practice, most of whom are very young. Here, the name is definitely most popular in the working class and with the more rural (regardless of overall income) population. If I see a Landon on my schedule, I assume I'll be meeting a farm kid who likes to ride 4-wheelers and hunt with his dad. Hope this is helpful!

21
By nina (not verified)
August 24, 2007 12:41 AM

The education & socio-economic factors tied to naming is fascinating. But I have a hard time with it! For example, people seem to assume that if your daughter is named something like Sophia, then you're educated & upper class. It's not that easy. In my volunteer work, I've met a few little Sophias with -how shall I say this- rude, crude, and uneducated parents who would rather swill beers than spend time with their children.(I digress in fury.) The same goes for the plethora of Emilys, Chloes, Isabellas and Lilys that I've met. (Since I volunteer with young girls, I unfortunately don't have the insight on boys names here.)
Anyway, I just don't think you can say things like "upper class parents are only using xyz types of names". It's just not realistic & it's a sad commentary on our culture if we're constantly trying to put everyone in their "place" - espcially based on names.(fyi:I do love all the above girls names I mentioned, just used them as examples!)
Re: Landon -I'm in Boston and I've never met one.

22
By kathy (not verified)
August 24, 2007 3:33 AM

When I think of "Landon" I think of Alf Landon, who ran against FDR (and lost by a landslide) in 1936. Could Landon be identified as a Republican name? Alf Landon was governor of Kansas and I see that the name ranks very high there, as it does throughout the Midwest. (Please tell me this doesn't say something about how old I am, only that I presidential politics!)

23
By RebeccaB. (not verified)
August 24, 2007 3:42 AM

It's interesting that Laura posted this about the name Landon. I have a younger cousin who is pregnant and wants to use the name Landon if its a boy. I had never heard of it until just this past week...and we live in Wisconsin.

24
By Rebekah (not verified)
August 24, 2007 4:04 AM

I live in California and have never heard of it as a first name. I am not surprised though.

It does sound more of a country boy name to me.

25
By Julie (not verified)
August 24, 2007 5:06 AM

Kathy, I think of Alf Landon too (among other associations), and I'm only 23! I also tend to think of it as a Republican sounding name, but not because of Alf... I think it's just the geographical distribution that ties it to the red states in my mind.

26
By S (not verified)
August 24, 2007 7:50 AM

I'm from California and worked at a school for 12 years (been exposed to hundreds of names and sibling names)and I also had no idea "Landon" was a name.

27
By Linda (not verified)
August 24, 2007 12:39 PM

I live in a fairly affluent suburb of Chicago with 2 young boys and, while I'm familiar with this name, I've never met a Landon. We had it on a list of about 20 boy's names but it didn't make the cut. We associated it mainly with Landon Donovan the soccer player, but thought it was just a little too different and it brought to mind the verb "landing" an airplane. I still like the name, though.

28
By Caty (not verified)
August 24, 2007 1:07 PM

I just visited your babyname map. Why are Naomi and Isabella listed as creative fringe names? Naomi is biblical and Isabella is a traditional Italian name.

Thanks!

29
By Elizabeth (not verified)
August 24, 2007 1:27 PM

I live in Long Island, New York, and have never met a Landon in my life. Brandon, on the other hand, I've heard a lot.

30
By Mommy2JRE (not verified)
August 24, 2007 1:55 PM

Here's my first impression:

The states with the highest Landon population seem to be where mother's maiden names given as first or middle used to be more common. I've lived several places across the country and while a generalization, it seems to hold true.

In the South, many of my friends dropped their given middle name and slid their maiden name in that slot (Jane Marie Jefferson became Jane Jefferson Jones) That association with one's birth family was important to keep. And when a first son arrived, there was a good chance he'd be Jefferson (mn) Jones. In more upper crust families, it was important to have that family connection evident.

Think of the question, "Are you related to the Jeffersons from _____? It's a way for others to figure out your "place" and lineage. Both are important in both the South and among the wealthy.

Just a thought

31
By jess (not verified)
August 24, 2007 3:06 PM

Our little town (pop.1800) is very rural and there are 2 Landen's in my sons tot spot. Both under 4 years old one has a younger bro Logan and other older bro Colten. I work 2 hrs south in the city. At my sons daycare Jack and Hayden are the big names 4 jacks and a whopping 9 Haydens.

32
By kristi (not verified)
August 24, 2007 3:17 PM

I discovered a couple of well-known athletes in Arkansas and Indiana with the first name Landon. Landon Leach, Landon Trusty and Landon Turner.

Michael Landon's roles in Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie give the name a Western & Plains states feel - strong character and wide open spaces.

33
By Renee (not verified)
August 24, 2007 5:58 PM

I used to LOVE the name Landon, until my little brother's best friend fathered a baby(at 18)that he named Landon. That was the final 'popularity' straw for me. The baby I'm expecting now will be Lyndon (close but not so popular)
1st: I live in Wisconsin
2nd: I knew one Landon in college who is now in his late 20s (he was from Illinios)
3rd: My hubby and I are college educated and have an above average income opposite what Laura said," Landon rate does seem to have an inverse relationship to average income.."

34
By Wendy (not verified)
August 24, 2007 6:12 PM

Another Californian here. I knew Landon was a name, but have yet to meet one. We know a ton of kids who are white, Chinese, and hispanic.

Perhaps what is most surprising is that we DON'T know a Landon. We have encountered just about every other "n" name there is for boys, many on multiple occasions.

Perhaps I will try to convince the next mom-to-be who says she is going to name her kid Logan or Brandon to name him Landon instead. ;)

35
By Stephanie (not verified)
August 24, 2007 6:13 PM

Please, people, remember that anecdotes are not statistics. Knowing someone who does not fit the statistic does not mean the statistic is wrong. Sofia may be more common among certain brackets. That doesn't mean it is used EXCLUSIVELY by that bracket.

36
By Della (not verified)
August 24, 2007 6:50 PM

As an East Texan with family in LA and MS, I have run across a few and heard of a few Landons. It seems to me the parents that choose it share a common rural, working class up bringing. Their soc-ec groups as independent adults is more varied. Maybe naming style is influenced during the formative years?

37
By tara (not verified)
August 24, 2007 7:02 PM

I love and adore Michael Landon from Little House fame. However, I have never heard of the name Landon used as a first name in Australia.

I think that people here would have a really hard time differentiating between the city London and the name Landon. I expect London, although unusual, would be more popular here than Landon?

How would it be pronounced in Louisiana?

Tara

38
By misty (not verified)
August 24, 2007 8:11 PM

I live in Arkansas and my best friend had a new little boy 2 weeks ago and his name is Landon.

39
By Stephanie A (not verified)
August 24, 2007 8:14 PM

Funny - I grew up with a Landon, so it has never occured to me that this was a "different" name. I grew up in FL. Landon and I are both 30 now. His family is/was middle or middle-to-upper class. His parents are of Greek descent, but I don't know how far removed they are from the first immigrants to the US. My guess is that his parents were 2nd generation Americans. They were definitely Democrats (Landon's dad is a cousin of Michael Dukakis). As a pp said one anecdote doesn't blow the trend, but this one is the opposite of the trend. Interesting.

Peace,
Stephanie

40
By Katharine (not verified)
August 24, 2007 8:37 PM

Brandon is relatively uncommon in the UK and Landon - well I've never met or heard of one! I think on the whole we're more conservative with our boys names (no sign of Jackson yet Jack has been at the no. 1 spot for yonks)

So, how do these national discrepancies occur? Someone somewhere must have sparked the 'Landon' craze in the US (slight overstatement but you know what I mean!)...

41
By Katharine (not verified)
August 24, 2007 8:38 PM

I beg your pardon Brandon is at no. 54 in the Uk charts which can't very well be described as 'uncommon'! All I can say is that it hasn't hit my parts yet!

42
By molly h (not verified)
August 24, 2007 9:29 PM

Don't have much to offer on the topic... Just that lving in New England I'm aware of the name but don't know any personally.

It's funny that this comes up just a few hours after I was talking to my sister about a man she knows named "Blandon" and when I commented on it she said, it's even stranger because one of his best friends is named "Brandom". Both names I've never heard before.

43
By jessie (not verified)
August 24, 2007 10:01 PM

My friends have a two yr old son Landon. She liked Lance, but he thought for whatever reason that it was "sissy". To them Landon was a manlier Lance.

44
By Irene's mom (not verified)
August 24, 2007 10:43 PM

Hi! Anybody up for giving some advice/input? Expecting child #2 and looking for a girl's name to go with sister Irene.
My favs: Faye, Edith, and Florence

DH favs: Grace, Wilona, and Barbara

Others that have tickled our fancy: Estella, Mary, Agnes

Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated!

45
By Tansey (not verified)
August 24, 2007 11:31 PM

I haven't come across Landon in NZ so far, but I don't move in preschool circles nowdays. The only association for me would be Michael Landon, very popular countrywide in Little House but off the general radar for his later work. The footballer may hold more appeal for young dads though.

46
By J&H's mom (not verified)
August 25, 2007 12:55 AM

I'm wondering if Landon has already peaked in some states. I feel like it's a name that has already had its day here.
Anyone up for a comparison of say, Hudson vs. Landon? Or Lachlan vs. Landon?
I'm thinking the states where it's less popular tend to be slightly ahead in trends.
My other question would be whether there are other names with a similar pattern. It's hard not to look at the map and draw some kind of socio/economic conclusions, but it doesn't really make sense that there would be so much divergence with that One name. To be perfectly frank (and feel free to call me a snob), I'd have expected a map like this for a name like Jalen or Jaden. Landon is a name I like but don't love-I guess it's hard for me to imagine it as a number one choice, but it's also not one that makes me want to cringe like some of the MTV names we've discussed before- Talon et. al (Again, I'm just discusssing the post-not trying to offend).

47
By J&H's mom (not verified)
August 25, 2007 1:01 AM

Irene's mom-
Our tastes are a bit different, but of those you mentioned, I think Irene pairs best with Faye or Mary. I also thought of Violet or Hazel. Something about Irene has a nature vibe to me-maybe because it's close to Iris? Grace is one of my all-time favorites, but it's much more popular. The others sound old-fashioned to me, but not old enough to have that charm factor, kwim? I do love just Stella-or how about Helen? Take care!

48
By Irene's mom (not verified)
August 25, 2007 1:13 AM

Thanks! I've always liked Violet and Hazel, but I think they have a trendy element that Irene doesn't. Helen, I love! It has Greek origins like Irene... I really, really like it, thanks. Estella didn't feel quite right. It's my godmother's name. I don't know why I didn't think of the stouter Stella. Goes with Irene and honors a loved one.
Again, thanks!

49
By Beth (not verified)
August 25, 2007 2:24 AM

Faye, Faye, Faye, before it gets snapped up by the trendies! Irene has that groovy nouveau-old-fashioned feeling but is still unusual, and Faye strikes me as very similar.

Landon. The only guess I would hazard is that in states where manliness is an issue (i.e., where having your son turn out gay would be a fate worse than death), Landon is popular. In MA, NY, and CA, you'd join Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and just deal, so you name your kid Julian. Landon is the Mitchum Man of naming: Protects Against Odor AND Homosexuality.

50
By TChemGrrl (not verified)
August 25, 2007 2:50 AM

Beth: The name really reads that butch to you? To me it sounds a little country, but more "Michael Landon in Little House on the Prairie" than "Marlborough Man". It has the same feel as the gentle made-up names, all the -aidens.

Julian at least has been a man's name for a long time, and reads more masculine to me. More urban, and upper class, but more masculine.