Frack and Frick

November 28, 1992

Some of the most familiar pairings in American annals migh not have prospered had the names been reversed.

Roebuck and Sears.

Costello and Abbott.

Jill and Jack.

A debate is now raging in corporate offices, think-tanks and government chambers over whether to call the new combined "common market" in this region the "Baltimore-Washington" metropolitan area, or the "Washington-Baltimore" area.

Because the populace in the two regions ostensibly has more in common now, and because business leaders feel the consolidation would attract more international business and government aid to these parts, federal officials are expected to combine the two metropolitan areas into a single mega-market, on paper, by year's end.

Fortunately, one criteria that the U.S. Office of Management and Budget does not use in deciding whether two metropolises merit a common market is how smoothly they decide whose name goes first.

Gamble and Procter.

Garfunkel and Simon.

Dixon and Mason.

We have no quarrel with the fact that Washington is the economic engine that pulls this region. And Washington has certainly been more responsible for the growth of the counties that lie between the two cities. Whether D.C. has its own baseball team is beside the point. It is the capital of our proud nation and we have great respect for it. We just think that "Baltimore" sounds better first.


Clyde and Bonnie.


If the main reason for the new common market is marketing, doesn't it make sense to create a name pleasing to the ear? The title shouldn't be based on power or ego or even the federal bureaucracy's own technicality that would put Baltimore first because the city itself has more population than the District of Columbia. This name should be about retention and rhythm.

Clark and Lewis.

Hammerstein and Rogers.

Bradstreet and Dun.

The international airport is named Baltimore-Washington, although the state of Maryland chose the name, so maybe that shouldn't count. But the U.S. government years ago found reason to name the parkway between the cities "Baltimore-Washington." The phone book lists about 20 companies and organizations that currently use "Baltimore-Washington" in their title. Only one uses the title reversed as "Washington-Baltimore." We must admit it's the Newspaper Guild, of all things. But that shouldn't detract from our point: What's in a name? Nothing less than the success of this union.


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