I have always wondered what the difference is between a city with a “berg” suffix and one with a “burg.”
When such things mattered, a berg meant “hill” (by north-German standards), and a burg meant “castle.” I am happy to report they got it correct and there is indeed a hill in Guttenberg.
If you look closely at this aerial photograph of Guttenberg, you’ll notice the whitish bump in a field near the lower middle bit of the map.
That bump is — you’re ahead of me here — the Guttenhill berg. Expanding this line of thought, I wonder if this can apply to people’s surnames: berg’s ancestors being hill folk and the burg’s ancestors being the more courtly folk.
Anyway, the city takes its name from German immigrant Johannes Gutenberg (“good mountain” in German), inventor of modern form of movable type which enabled the berg folk to own their own bibles, something reserved for the burg folk prior to movable type.
Prior to this, the town was called Prairie La Porte, meaning “the door to the prairie,” and its riverfront location was pivotal in its early commercial development. The town served as a focal point for westward settlement and was heavily settled by German immigrants.
The city of Guttenberg has an estimated $875,000 riverfront development project out for bid on Aug. 5, 2010.
Jeff Moore is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 225-1819.