I never actually thought the Simpsons lived in Springfield, NJ. They just weren’t Jersey enough–there wasn’t enough profanity.
After 22 years and more than 500 episodes, creator Matt Groening revealed which Springfield was the real one. Turns out it’s in Oregon (not one that I ever really thought of). The reasoning for this is that Springfield, OR, is near Groening’s hometown.
The problem with pinning down the real Springfield is that the fictional town has elements of multiple places–there’s a Midwestern feel that comes with the town’s founder, Jebediah Springfield, but there’s also a coast and seaport.
Of course, when I lived out in Colorado, the long-time residents claimed that Springfield was really supposed to be a conglomeration of Colorado towns. That claim made more sense when the Simpsons moved to Cypress Creek to work for super villain Hank Scorpio–that town reminded me of Boulder.
While the town may be named after the town in Oregon, it is not an accurate representation of it. It’s still better to view Springfield as an Everytown, USA, complete with a corrupt, pot-smoking, womanizing mayor (are we absolutely sure this isn’t New Jersey?).