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Why do they call it that? The city that swallowed its rival | News

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Why do they call it that? The city that swallowed its rival
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It's a tale of two cities -- but only one made it out alive, after swallowing its rival.

Why do they call it Riverview?

They're America's greatest rivalries:

Yankees and Red Sox -- Coke and Pepsi -- and, of course, the Hillsborough County towns of Riverview and Peru.

Wait, what?!

Some settlers set up a tiny town on the southern bank of the Alafia River in the 1840's. At the time, their town didn't really have a name that stuck -- but it would eventually get a funky one: Peru.

"It became Peru in the 1890's when the Peruvian Mining Company was established in the area and they had to have a name for this place," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center.

"They took the Peruvian Mining Company name, shortened it, and called it Peru," he said -- pronouncing the name "PEE-roo" instead of the way we learn to say the country's name in school, "puh-ROO."

"There's no good explanation as to how or why Peru is called 'PEE-roo' and not 'puh-ROO,'" Kite-Powell said.

Those settlers on the south bank were not alone. After a little while, another group of people came in and they set up shop on the north bank of the Alafia.

They created their own town -- a place that would pick up the name Riverview.

"It's called that because of the view of the Alafia River," Kite-Powell explained.

If you unfurl old maps, you'll see Peru marked along the wavy line that is the Alafia River. And Riverview is -- where's Riverview? For many years, Riverview didn't even show up as a dot.

But as time went by, that would change.

On later maps, both Peru and Riverview are shown. Then, a few years after that -- Peru is all gone, from every map.

What happened? "Peru fell victim to the growth of Riverview," Kite-Powell said.

Both towns popped up along this same stretch of the Alafia at almost the same time. But only one name has survived. Why did Riverview win that rivalry?

"Riverview was closer to Tampa and it was easier to get to Riverview than having to ford the Alafia River to get down to Peru. And, so, the growth of Riverview really increased much more rapidly than the growth of Peru," Kite-Powell said.

"Eventually, the identity of Riverview just kind of overwhelmed Peru, and it became all one... place."

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News starting at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

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