Birmingham City Council has admitted sending out leaflets which showed its US namesake's skyline instead.
About 720,000 pamphlets praising Brummies for their recycling were sent around the city at a cost of £15,000.
But instead of showing landmarks such as the Rotunda and the new Selfridges building, it showed downtown Birmingham, Alabama, instead.
Jon Cooper, 37, who spotted the error, said the council had thanked him for pointing out the mistake.
Mr Cooper, of Kings Norton, Birmingham, said he had been left puzzled by the leaflet which was pushed through his letterbox.
A TALE OF TWO BRUMS
Birmingham, UK, has population of 1,006,500 while its US namesake has 242,820 residents
Birmingham, UK, one of original centres of industrial revolution and known as City Of A Thousand Trades
Birmingham, AL founded in 1871 and named after English city
Also became major industrial centre
US city saw riots and protests during civil rights movement of 1960s
It was meant to thank residents for helping the city achieve its recycling targets early.
But underneath the heading Thank You Birmingham!, it showed a photo of a city that Mr Cooper did not recognise.
He said: "I had a really close look and didn't recognise any buildings that I know from Birmingham so I thought there's just something wrong here.
"I'm a regular visitor to the US and I thought maybe it looked a little bit like a US city. I thought well actually there's a Birmingham in America.
"So I got on to Google and found a picture of the downtown area of Birmingham, Alabama, and hey presto, there it was.
"I actually thought it was pretty funny."
City council officials initially claimed no mistake had been made and the "generic skyline [was] intended to symbolise an urban area".
But a spokesman has now admitted the authority was at fault.
"Birmingham is immensely proud of its recycling record and this leaflet has helped to get the recycling message across to thousands of our enthusiastic citizens over the last 15 months," he said.
"We accept that the wrong photo was used, but the text and detail contained in the leaflet is wholly correct which is the most important message."
He said it had received only one complaint about the error and there were no plans to reprint the leaflet.
The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, Larry P Langford, said he took the mistake as a compliment.
He said: "People have a tendency, as you well know, to get all bent out of shape over stuff.
"Life is too short. I thought it was flattering. And please continue to use the skyline - it doesn't bother me."
The wrong Birmingham skyline