What's in a Name? What's in a Name?
What's in a Name?
Nowadays, neighborhood sobriquets are designed by marketing gurus to make an area more appealing. In 100 years, that story will be forgotten, but the names will remain. We often forget that the names of our oldest neighborhoods hold a deep history and sense of place. Here are some of our favorite neighborhoods and neighborhood names, and the people, geographies, and stories from which they came.
Back Bay, Boston
Named for the fact that, between 1857 and 1882, the back part of the bay between Boston and Cambridge was literally filled in, creating the neighborhood.
Named for the British Duke of Bedford and Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of New York.
Named for the goats that Polish immigrants raised in the neighborhood. A male goat is called a buck.
Echo Park, Los Angeles
Named for the echoes that occurred when workers shouted while building a local reservoir.
Five Sisters, Burlington
Named because the five main streets in the area—Catherine, Caroline, Margaret, Charlotte, and Marian—were named for the daughters of the developer.
Frogtown, St. Paul
Theories about the neighborhood’s name abound: because of the area’s French settlers, because a Catholic priest witnessed croaking frogs in the area, or because railroad couplers were known as “frogs,” and the area was full of railroad workers.
Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Named in the 1670s for Greenwyck, the town on Long Island where the neighborhood’s developer, Yellis Mandeville, had lived previously.
Haight Ashbury, San Francisco
Named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets. The origin of the name Haight is unknown. Ashbury was a city supervisor at the time.
The Mission District, San Francisco
Named for the nearby Spanish mission, which, while officially known as San Francisco de Asis, is commonly known as Mission Dolores, after a nearby creek.
When the predominately German immigrants of the area returned over the Miami and Erie Canal from work in downtown Cincinnati, they would say they were going “over the Rhine.”
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Named for its location on a hill leading up to Prospect Park.
Named for the fact that it was the area where the railroad released cargoes of pigs to go to the city’s slaughterhouses.
Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Originally called Ivanhoe, the neighborhood underwent a name change when the local reservoir was named after Herman Silver, who was one of Los Angeles’s first water commissioners.
SoCo, Austin, Texas
Named for its proximity to South Congress Avenue, which was itself named for the location where, according to legend, Mirabeau Lamar, vice president of the Texas Republic, shot a buffalo and declared the location to be the new seat of the Texan government.
Soulard, St. Louis
Named for Antoine Soulard, a French explorer who first surveyed the area for the king of Spain.
Named for the fact that the area is where the city’s orderly grid system of streets breaks down.
Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn
Named after a battle in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, in an attempt to lure Irish immigrants to settle in the area.
Watts, Los Angeles
Named for the neighborhood’s developer, Charles Watts.
Named for the local primary school, which was named for the 19th-century poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier.
Wicker Park, Chicago
Named for the local park, which in turn was named after the developers Charles and Joel Wicker, who donated a parcel of land to the city in the 1870s to build a public park.
Named for Colonel Jonathan Williams, the engineer who surveyed the land, which had been purchased by Richard Woodhull.
Should Society Fund Mindfulness? Putting taxpayer money toward meditation programs? It’s not as crazy as you might think.
Syrian Refugee Women Learn Self-Defense with Predictably Badass Results Two Arab-American women hope to empower Syrian women fleeing their home country’s conflict with physical training and emotional healing.
Achilles’ Password: Online Security’s Susceptible Straggler These new technologies promise to make your vulnerable passwords obsolete.
Guess Which Wealthy Country Can't Guarantee Access to a Basic Human Need? This week, Detroit's neediest had their water turned off. Here's what you can do about it.
If More Couples Smoked Weed, Would There Be Less Domestic Violence? Spouses who smoke weed are less likely to inflict physical, sexual, or psychological harm on their significant other.
Better Living Through Science: Women in STEM A look at pioneering women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
How You Type Says a Ton About Your Emotional State This new computer program can see right through your poker face.
Let’s Do More. A Call-to Action by Gap CMO Seth Farbman Data shows that 24% of the 21 million Americans making minimum wage are working in retail, and 64% of those are women.
Meet the Self-Proclaimed President of Colombia’s Hottest Music Trend Champeta started as an outsider Afro-Colombian folk movement. Now it's taking over the country.
Cryptocurrency Regains its Reputation in Paradise Can a renowned tourist hub in Bali become a bitcoin wonderland?
Can a Miracle Fruit Overcome its Unsavory Reputation? Conservationists, farmers, and nutritionists are singing the praises of the breadfruit. If only it didn't taste so bad.
New App Could Tackle Hunger, Will Help You Find a Good Deal PareUp wants to connect food purveyors to thrifty consumers looking to score deals on unused, but still edible, items.