"Look at that, you can see the four states that border Springfield: Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky!"
—Ned Flanders, The Simpsons Movie
Springfield contains constantly-relocating buildings (the parking lot of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant moving next door to the Simpsons' house suddenly, or Marge looking out the kitchen window at apparently the same angle and seeing different buildings in the same episode), but the town also shifts constantly between being landlocked or coastal. In one episode all the townspeople were trapped when the "only bridge out of town" was destroyed (the international airport being across the river). The Movie provided a convenient forest right outside the Simpsons' house for them to escape into (it appears in some other episodes too).
Despite being described as a tiny "jerkwater burg", Springfield has multiple elementary schools, two multiplex cinemas, several universities, an army base, a naval reserve base, an Air Force base, a television studio, a Spanish-language TV station, its own radio market (its jazz station being the most powerful in the US), "Area 51-A", the international airport (receiving direct flights from Bombay at 15-minute intervals, plus many other destinations here), a transit system including buses, streetcars, elevated tracks, an abandoned monorail, a subway and an abandoned subway, football and baseball stadiums, a Popsicle stick skyscraper, at least two mental hospitals, a house of ill repute, several shopping malls, a dozen correctional facilities, a Friendly Neighborhood Chinatown, Tibettown, Greektown, Little Italy, a Russian district, a Gayborhood, and a Jewish neighborhood; more factories, retail outlets, eateries, museums, theme parks and night schools than most states, as well as vast expanses of desert, lakes, large river (with a dam), forests, chasms, swamps, farmland and blasted heath, and three gigantic mountains that turned up one episode but aren't even visible in the skyline at any other time...
The City of Springfield was moved, lock, stock and barrel several miles when the entire previous city location had been filled with garbage. Nobody seems to know just where in America Springfield is, least of all the people who live there. There are 121 towns named Springfield across 34 states in real life.
Technically speaking the geography of the city fits much more with Springfield, Oregon with its proximity to Eugene, Oregon (Shelbyville), which is closest to Groening's home city of Portland, Oregon. The irony of Springfield being an incredibly common name for a city is one thing, but the proximity of ocean, rivers, mountains, fields, lakes, large universities, etc, in addition to a giant pulp mill used by Weyerhauser in precisely the same location looking east. Goering stated in an April 2012 interview that Springfield is indeed named after Springfield, Oregon.
This has been lampshaded in the show for comedic effect:
- "West Springfield", a desert area "three times the size of Texas"
- The "four states" quote at the top (look at a map; Ohio and Kentucky are the only two named that share a border, and are separated by several thousand miles in opposite directions from Nevada and Maine).
- The "Five Corners", the only place in the United States where five states share a border, one of them being Springfield's. When police from all five states show up there, they include stock parodies of Minnesotans, New Jerseyans, and Hawaiians. (There is a real "Four Corners" where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet.)
- In one episode, a mobster says that they're smuggling sugar "south of the border", to which Homer replies "You mean Tennessee?"
- When the Simpsons go to Brazil in search of an orphan Lisa was sponsoring in "Blame It On Lisa", he explains that he never replied to her letters because she didn't say what state she lived in. Her reply: "If you follow the clues you can figure it out."
- In "Lisa Gets an A", Superintendent Chalmers says that Springfield Elementary was rated the worst school in Missouri, causing Principal Skinner and Lisa to give him a strange look until he explains that was the reason the school was dismantled and moved to Springfield.
- In one episode where the date for voting is moved up in Springfield before New Hampshire, all the news crews quickly move out and begin to head to Springfield. In response to one anchor's question, "Which Springfield?" The response is, "The one the Simpsons live in!"
- On one instance where the family's entire address is seen on an envelope, the state is abbreviated "NT".
- Northern Territory?
- Northwest Territories? (Although most commonly abbreviated "NWT", "NT" in fact is the official two-letter postal abbreviation for the Northwest Territories).
- Not Telling.
- In a DVD commentary (though not in canon), one of the creative team said that Springfield is in the state of "North Tacoma".