It seems that everyone who has written about Coraopolis has debated the origin of the name.
The name Coraopolis was coined by First Burgess of Borough, Reverend Josiah Dillon. When questioned about it, Reverend Dillon wrote and published a full explanation in the Coraopolis Review on October 13, 1887. * The name was created by combining the Greek “Kore” (Korē, Κόρη) for maiden and “Polis” for city. When proper Greek names begin with the letter “Kappa”, this is translated to English as the letter “C”. Hence: Coraopolis, The Maiden City.
Much ado has been made by other writers about an early borough benefactor, Cora Watson. Given that Mr. Dillon rejects any connection out-of-hand, it seems unlikely that Ms. Watson had any bearing on the name. However, even a cursory search into the etymology of the English name “Cora” reveals that it is the Anglicized Greek name “Kore” for maiden. Any further debate about Ms. Watson, therefore, appears to be laughably circular to entertain.
In Greek, the Maiden Kore is actually the Goddess Persephone, Daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and Kidnapped Queen of the Underworld. Her abduction signifies the seasonal change of spring vegetation and fertility which withdraws upon harvest. Her yearly return, much like her sister-goddess Isis whose tears flooded the Nile, embodies the chain of death and rebirth, the circle of life. One could imagine the Maiden City of Coraopolis yearly reborn on the banks of the Ohio River, ever evolving and adding to her own story. It is easy to see why Reverend Dillon asserts, “Coraopolis is a beautiful, soft-flowing, rhythmical name, derived from the most poetical languages.”
* I’ve searched in vain for an original microfilm copy of this article, but if it exists, I am unable to locate it. Thankfully, Edward Maurey provided a reprint of the full text in his book “How the West Began: A Story of Coraopolis and the Ohio Valley” (1930).