The Zone Improvement Plan, otherwise known as the ZIP code, is the network of postal codes the U.S. Postal Service created in the early 1960s. NPR recently examined how these five-digit codes were made in efforts to improve the speed and accuracy of mail. Since then, where we live, work, and play is defined by your ZIP code—here’s more about what your ZIP code really means. Out of almost 40,000 ZIP codes in the United States, these 15 are pretty notable.
99501: Anchorage, Alaska
Downtown Anchorage is where the first fast and fluffy Huskies took off with sleds for the world’s longest sled-dog race: The Iditarod. This chilly place is also one of the largest cities—as well as one of the nicest places—in the United States.
90210: Beverly Hills, California
You definitely know this ZIP code. The hit teen TV drama, 90210, was modeled after the glam shenanigans that occurred in this area’s manicured streets. It is also home to the Greystone Mansion, where over 50 movies were filmed.
33162: Miami, Florida
Miami Vice, the action-packed TV crime drama, tells the story of two undercover detectives in the palm-tree lined streets of Miami. Several episodes were filmed in South Beach, Miami because of its picturesque views.
60606: Chicago, Illinois
The third largest city in the United States is bursting with skyscrapers, massive art installations, and signature deep-dish pizza. It’s called Chicago-style for a reason: its two-inch thick crust has consumers getting lost in the sauce. Another moniker for Chicago? It’s also known as the Windy City—here’s why.
42748: Hodgenville, Kentucky
Nestled in the Kentucky wilderness is the birthplace of the 16th U.S. president: Abraham Lincoln. Born in a tiny wood cabin, this national monument brings in over 200,000 visitors a year.
70130: New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. There’s also mardi gras, drive-through daiquiri shops, gumbo…need we say more?
48202: Detroit, Michigan
Henry Ford installed the last tire on the first Model T Ford and rolled into the streets of Detroit, Michigan, thus becoming the namesake of “Motor City.” If you visit Detroit these days, you’ll also find the Heidelberg Project, a series of guerilla art installations featured on abandoned houses, which is just one of the hidden gems you’ll find in each state.
89041: Tonopah, Nevada
A quick glance at Google maps shows vast amounts of empty desert, all belonging to Tonopah, which holds the title for the largest ZIP code at 10,000 square miles. Midway from the cities of Tonopah and Ely, Nevada lies an unsuspecting feature: an earth-shattering crater used by NASA to prepare astronauts for the Apollo Moon missions.
10007: New York City, New York
Don’t sleep on this city, because New York City won’t let you get in a wink. Known as the cultural capital of the world, this metropolitan mecca has no short of activities. For those willing to venture off the beaten path, check out these hidden NYC gems even locals didn’t know about.
97210: Portland, Oregon
This quirky town inspired the hit TV show Portlandia, which simultaneously praises and makes a mockery of the town and its eccentric population.
37352: Lynchburg, Tennessee
This place is as smooth as Tennessee whiskey because it’s the home of Jack Daniels. Jasper (known as Jack) Newton Daniel’s creation yielded the oldest registered distillery in the United States and ranks number six on the Forbes list of best-selling whiskey in the world last year.
77070: Houston, Texas
Through the efforts of a middle school teacher, cowboy boots became the official footwear of this steamy state. Inspired by the state’s history of cattle ranching, cowboy boots are perfect for enduring horseback riding, making a fashion statement and unleashing your inner country.
84060: Park City, Utah
Filmmakers and goers alike convene in the dead of winter to attend the Sundance Film Festival in this red-rocked city. Originating in 1985, it’s the largest independent film festival in the United States.
26273: Huttonsville, West Virginia
“Almost heaven, West Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.” The song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver pays tribute to the expansive mountain views you’ll find in West Virginia. Heard around any campfire ever, this country classic was made the state’s official song.
53703: Madison, Wisconsin
Wisconsin is coined as America’s Dairyland and its residents are called, well, Cheeseheads. This nickname was adopted due to the mass amounts of dairy production in Wisconsin. Some Green Bay Packers fans even proudly don a hat shaped like a massive block of cheese on their head. While the city of Madison itself is known for long, arduous winters and rewarding summers, it’s also known for one other thing: being one of the most caring cities in America.
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