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The Unofficial Simpsons Tour of Springfield

Published: November 01, 2018

 

D'oh! Springfield, Oregon is the real inspiration behind the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation's show "The Simpsons".

Created by Matt Groening in 1987, "The Simpsons" is one of the most watched and longest running shows in recent television history.

The obvious connection is Matt's own story. He grew up in Portland, Oregon (just two hours north of Springfield) with parents Homer and Margaret Groening and his sisters Lisa and Maggie. We've heard the brothers are represented by Bart, a play on the word "brat." Additionally Portland's street names match character names used in the show, including Flanders, Quimby and Kearney.

Matt was very familiar with Eugene - Springfield. A former mill town, Springfield struggled with its "other side of the tracks" identity in the shadow of the more visibly cultured and economically advantaged Eugene (i.e. Shelbyville). Principal Skinner may have gotten his name from Eugene Skinner, the founding father of Eugene.

Comparisons between "The Simpsons" Springfield and Oregon's Springfield are easy to find. With a little bit of imagination you might just see Homer walking down Main Street.

Well, What about Springfield, Vermont?

When Vermont won the "USA Today The Simpsons Movie Challenge" (based on viewer votes for the best video submission), Matt signed "To the Real Springfield," on the Springfield, Oregon participant plaque.

Then in 2012 the "Smithsonian" reported that Matt had named Springfield, Oregon as the true city behind the show. He immediately took it back, however; in 2014 both he and the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation supported the installation of a large Simpsons mural in historic downtown Springfield, Oregon. Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, attended the dedication. That's all the evidence we need...

But if you want to check it out for yourself take the Unofficial Simpsons Tour!

The Unofficial Simpsons Tour

We are sure Springfield, Oregon is the real Simpsons' Springfield. Matt Groening has said so himself, once signing a plaque "To the REAL Springfield," and once in an interview with the "Smithsonian." We invite you to take a photo opportunity tour and check out the "proof" along the way. Here are several must-see stops for "The Simpsons" fans.

Springfield

1. Springfield Horseman Statue

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
101 S A St, Springfield

In the show, the town square memorial depicts Jebediah Springfield. In Springfield, OR an unknown rider presides over the entrance to the city. UO art student Charles Forrester designed Springfield's statue in 1960 for Oregon's 1959 Centennial. It is adjacent to two small riverfront parks and the Historic Springfield Depot which houses the Chamber of Commerce.

In 2007, Springfield painted the statue "Simpsons yellow" as part of the national competition for premiering "The Simpsons Movie."

Springfield Horseman Sculpture by Colin Morton

Springfield Horseman Sculpture

Photo: Colin Morton
2. The Simpsons Mural and Life Size Simpsons Family

Emerald Art Center
500 Main St (Corner of 5th and Main St), Springfield
Open Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

Approved by the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a mural of "The Simpsons" graces the west wall of the Emerald Art Center. The mural is a collaboration by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation print artist Julius Preite and "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening. The 15 by 30 foot mural was installed by the Old City Artists in 2014. Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, presided over the mural's dedication.

The Simpsons' Mural Unveil by Lisa Lawton

Inside the Emerald Art Center sits the life size Simpsons family on the cardboard prop couch used for the movie premiere. There is just enough room to sit beside them for a photo opportunity. The Emerald Art Center hosts art workshops, rotating exhibits and a gift shop. Walking around downtown Springfield, discover over eight other community murals.

The Springfield Family at the Emerald Art Center by Taj Morgan
3. Simpsons Plaque Signed by Matt Groening

Springfield's City Manager's Office
225 Fifth St, Springfield
Open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Directly behind the Springfield Museum in Springfield's City Manager's office hangs a plaque on which Matt Groening wrote "Yo to Springfield, Oregon - the real Springfield! Your pal, Matt Groening proud Oregonian!"

Matt Groening's Autograph
4. Weyerhaeuser Plant 

Rumor has it that the mill's smokestacks of the original Weyerhaeuser company inspired the nuclear plant in The Simpsons.

Eugene (Shelbyville)

5. The Pioneer Statue 

University of Oregon
(Between Johnson, Fenton and Friendly Halls)
1098 E 13th, Eugene

Many claim "The Simpsons" statue of Jebediah Springfield is based on the bronze pioneer statue on the University of Oregon campus. Installed in 1919 by Alexander Phimister Proctor, it depicts a trapper carrying a rifle.The University of Oregon offers self-guided tours of campus on its mobile app. While there, be sure to visit the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Natural and Cultural History Museum.

Updated 2020: This statue, along with the "Pioneer Mother", was pulled down by protestors. It has been relocated to storage pending future decisions.

UO Pioneer Statue by Kari Westlund
6. Max's Tavern 

550 E 13th Ave, Eugene
Open daily, 2 p.m. - 2 a.m. 

Max's Tavern must have been the inspiration for Moe's Tavern right down to the jar of pickled eggs on the counter. The exterior is an identical match to the illustrated version and folklore says Matt Groening spent time sketching at the bar during his college years.

They don't serve Duff beer but they do have Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Max's Tavern is the oldest bar in Eugene still in its original location. Since Max opened the doors in 1932, very little has changed. We challenge you to eat a pickled egg.

Max's Tavern by Ivan Freck
Simpsons Mural Painting
Validation that this is the real Springfield is on the wall… More Info
Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.