California Trivia Tuesday: How Did Azusa Get Its Name?
Like several other cities we’ve mentioned before, Azusa has an unusual name. The common explanation (and one that makes a surprising amount of sense) for the origin of Azusa’s name is that it is a compaction of the phrase “A to Z in the USA.” But, as fun as that would be, unfortunately, the “A to Z” origin is a misconception.
In reality, historians say that the more likely explanation is that the city name comes from the Native American word asuksagna, which roughly translates to “skunk place.”
The misconception about the name actually came from an old joke by comedian Jack Benny, who said in part of his act that the city name was an abbreviation of “A to Z in the USA.”
Jack Benny seemed to be particularly fascinated with the city of Azusa and its unusual name, as he went on to reuse it several times in his popular radio show, The Jack Benny Program. The show often featured famous voice-over artist Mel Blanc playing a railroad station announcer whose catchphrase was “Train leaving on track five for Anaheim, Azusa and Cu... camonga!” Sounds like Jack Benny could have been a CaliforniaCityNews fan, had we been around at the time.
Rancho Cucamonga has honored Jack Benny’s famous bit with a statue at a local playhouse.