Whenever I would hear the term "sister cities" I would often wonder how two incredibly distinct places, separated by thousands of miles, became "sisters".
I did some investigating and found that there is an organization that is in charge of these "hook-ups".
Sister Cities International is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities. Located in Washington, DC Sister Cities International is the official international membership organization that links communities around the world. This program was started in 1956 by President Eisenhower. He proposed a "people-to-people, citizen diplomacy initiative". Sister Cities International was originally part of the National League of Cities, but became a separate entity in 1967.
The Sister Cities site has an online directory. I clicked on my home state of Pennsylvania and found that Pittsburgh alone has 14 sister cities. You need to be a member to access information on each individual city, but it's a lot of fun to see the listings for each state. The site also contains a very informative FAQ stating how the different cities are picked, etc.
In the morning the city
Spreads its wings
Making a song
In stone that sings.
In the evening the city
Goes to bed
About its head.
- - - Langston Hughes