There are 40 places in the world with the name Bristol, but it is not easy to find them. Many have been absorbed into large cities, like Bristol, Pennsylvania. It is now part of the Philadelphia area, and was named after the Bristol in England. The largest Bristol in the world, a city of 463,000 people, is the one in Great Britain.
There is reportedly a 2nd town in Great Britain with the name Bristol, but it must be small and inconsequential. The city of Bristol in southwest England near Wales, which has been around for about a thousand years, dominates. Its name comes from an Old English word meaning “the place at the bridge”. Bristol has castles, bridges, and churches to visit; but its most popular attraction seems to be Brunel’s SS Great Britain. This very historic ship saw service from 1843 until it was retired in 1933. It has clearly been restored and put on display in Bristol. This vast steamship is referred to as the grandmother of all modern ships and was so important that Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, launched it.
Bristol is such a common name that 2 states have 2 Bristols. Pennsylvania is one of them, and the other is Wisconsin. 27 of the 40 Bristols are in the USA, but most of them are quite small. The one in Nevada has become a ghost town. The main Wisconsin Bristol has become part of Kenosha. The other must be a speed bump sized place. I have been through the Bristol near Kenosha but have no memory of it, not a good sign. The US Bristol I am most familiar with is the city that straddles the border between Tennessee and Virginia. Its combined population is about 43,500. I don’t know how it was named, but I do know that the 2nd name considered was Paradise. It has several attractions, but my favorite is a museum called The Birthplace of Country Music. Ruth and I went there and really liked it when we couldn’t get into Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. This has become one of the more popular national parks, and the businesses around it, mostly owned by Dolly Parton it seems, are causing major traffic congestion. There is also a fairly large Bristol in tiny Rhode Island. Its most popular attraction appears to be Linden Place, a mansion built in 1810 by a seafaring slave trader. Bristol, RI was also named after the city in Great Britain.
There are 2 Bristols in Italy and 2 in France; but the Bristol I am the most amazed by is the one in Albania, an unusual place to have a town with this name.