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Old 08-27-2010, 01:54 AM   #1
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Default How big is Lanford supposed to be?

How big is Lanford Illinois supposed to be? I mean the characters talk about how much they hate living there and that there are no jobs and nothing to do. But, there is a mall there, a pretty big mall actually and a grocery store, the Buy 'N Bag.
I currently live in a town of 3,000 people. There is NOTHING to do here and I say that because there is one grocery store, one small department store, a Dollar General, Sonic, Pizza Hut, 5 gas stations, 1 small library, 2 motels, 1 hotel, 1 post office, NO movie theater, NO bowling alley, NO skating rink, 1 high school, 1 grade school and 1 middle school. There are a few more restaurants and a golf course as well as the VFW, 1 police station, and 1 fire station. We have to go 30 miles away to the nearest movie theater, skating rink, bowling alley or Wal-Mart. I get so bored, it's pathetic. I would have liked to have lived in Lanford because I used to live in a city that has 350,000 people. It has 7 Wal-Marts, 2 malls, too many restaurants to even mention, etc. I only moved to where I currently live, the smaller town to be close to my father who was sick and dying of cancer. I ended up getting a job here, so I am stuck here until I find something else somewhere else and find the transportation to get me there.
The characters make it sound like Lanford is little. Doesn't sound terribly little to me. Compared to Chicago, yes but it seemed like a good sized town.
Just my observation.
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Old 09-13-2010, 12:45 PM   #2
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This is actually a good question, and I've wondered the same thing myself. I live in a town of about 6,000 people, and we have no mall, movie theatre, or anything. We have one grocery store, one plaza that has a McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Subway, etc. But just like you, we have to drive 30 miles to get to a WalMart, mall, or movie theatre. We have a small bowling alley too. It just seems odd to me that the Connor kids were always within walking distance of everything they wanted to do yet they always complained about how small and "phony" everything was.
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Old 09-13-2010, 03:28 PM   #3
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I think this is a really hard question to answer - I have lived in a number of small towns and they can be pretty varied in size and yet may or may not have a mall or movie theater or other amenities.

I have lived in a town of 68,000 people that had 2 malls (both pathetically small), no movie theater, countless gas stations and 5 or 6 big grocery stores - yet it seemed like there was never anything to do and not many jobs in town

- a town of 80,000 with only 1 mall that was pretty good, a great movie theater, 5 grocery stores, a Sears and a Wal-mart and a ton of neat coffee shops - this town was always full of exciting stuff to do and had 5 or 6 large technology companies with lots of good jobs (I think this was why it was so busy).

- a town of 17,000 with 2 tiny strip malls, one WITH a movie theatre, 5 gas stations, 2 grocery stores and ABSOLUTELY nothing to do, unless you like golf or fishing.

- a town of 7,000 with one small mall, a tiny movie theater, 5 or 6 gas stations, 2 golf courses, very few jobs - it didn't seem like there was anything to do there - unless you liked outdoor recreation activities.

MY guess is that Lanford is probably somewhere in the middle of those; maybe in the 20-30 thousand range. They definitely didn't seem to have many jobs in town, so I'm thinking it couldn't have been much larger than that.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:02 AM   #4
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that's what i never understood. I've lived in two different small towns and they didn't have any malls. It was on the coast of Washington so we had to cross the bridge to Oregon to go to a mall. Even to go to a costco. That mall seems to be pretty big too.
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:57 PM   #5
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This is a great question. I have thought about this too. I could be wrong but I think that theme park David worked at was in Lanford. I would think that would make it a good size city.

On the other hand, the town I live in has a 100,000 + population with no other big cities closer than 3 hours. We have 3 private universities and an air force base, and there is not a damn thing to do. Kids graduate and then move to a city that has jobs.
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Old 01-29-2011, 04:21 AM   #6
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My guess for the population would be 5,000 to 10,000 people.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:37 AM   #7
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Default The size of Lanford

Hello! I hope you all don't mind a newbie jumping in, but I think I can help unravel the mystery of Lanford's size.

Judging by dialogue in the series, Lanford is somewhere in North Central Illinois (somewhere near Moline or Elgin.) I come from East Central Illinois (Decatur) which, if Lanford were real, would be about a 60-90 minute drive.

The way a lot of smaller towns in Illinois are situated, you would often find several smaller towns grouped nearby, with a medium sized city within short (10 minutes at most) driving time.

For example, my hometown of Decatur has about 86,000 people. Adjacent to my city are several small towns: Warrensburg, Forsyth, Mt Zion, Harristown, Niantic, Argenta, Oreana, Boody, Mowequa, Blue Mound, etc. All of those towns, despite being very close to the larger Decatur, have populations ranging from as many as 5,000 to as little as 200.

Having all these towns so close means that while the larger city (Decatur) will have the most shopping/entertainment options, the smaller towns "share" these types of establishments with each other. For example, Mt Zion has its own small downtown, and a Wal Mart and movie theatre are very close by (while technically in Decatur, that area is considered part of Mt Zion.)

Mowequa has a bowling alley, which would also be close by for people living in Blue Mound or Boody. Forsyth, which is directly north of Decatur has the largest mall (Decatur's own malls died out in the early 90s, apart from several strip malls) despite being one of the smaller towns. There is also a multiplex there (Mt Zion has one as well.)

Judging by what little we see of exterior Lanford, I always suspected it was about the size of Mt Zion, Illinois. The bowling alley, mall, etc may have been technically in Lanford, or nearby. The closest medium-sized city would probably be Moline, Elgin, Joliet or Aurora. In the tornado episode, they stated that tornadoes were moving along Rt 36, which was most likely a mistake, as Rt 36 goes right through Central Illinois (right through Decatur, actually!) The county mentioned as the one Lanford is in is real (though I can't remember the name) and is located in the North Central part of the state.

Knowing small-town Illinois as I do, I'd say Lanford is a pretty accurate depiction of life in a small town (as opposed to a rural village or medium-sized city.) All of the places the Conners go, such as the grocery store, the mall, the movie theater, even a small amusement park such as the one where David worked, would be within short driving distance of a small Central Illinois town. This is further demonstrated by having a large factory (Wellman's) which tend to be the centerpiece of such towns. Another example of a town like Lanford would be Clinton, IL. Clinton has a couple grocery stores, a small cinema (I think, not too sure) and a nuclear power plant, which is the cities largest employer (as Wellman's was in Lanford.)

Hope this helps in some way! Writing all this makes me a little homesick, as I moved to California four years ago. That's one thing I love about watching Roseanne, it takes me back to my first thirty years of life, growing up in Illinois!
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Old 06-23-2011, 04:08 PM   #8
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Thanks WayTooNostalgic!
That was useful to me =)
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