Friday, January 11, 2008

Nabe Names: Stop the Insanity!

I've never been too fond of the trend to apply cutesy nicknames to neighborhoods. Especially not when a neighborhood already has an identity such as, for example, Inwood. Ok TriBeCa, DUMBO, you had no identity before you got your asinine names. Congrats. You've now ruined it for the rest of us.

Instead of using a perfectly lovely name (Guess what, we kind of are in the woods! How appropriate!) there came "WaHI" which I'm ok with since it identifies us as part of an ugly stepchild area of Manhattan that so often gets thought of as being in the Bronx. Washington Heights and Inwood get no love.

The whole Washington Heights thing I think is what the perceived problem is. For some reason, "Heights" seems to be associated with higher urban crime. Think: Crown Heights, Morningside Heights (well, in the 80s and early 90s anyway)... none of them give you quite the warm and fuzzy feeling you might be looking for in a potential neighborhood. So the real estate industry needed to spice things up a bit.

A former professor who lives in Hudson Heights said that another considered appellation for his neighborhood was Ft. Washington, but many neighborhood residents opposed it because of whatever connotations "Ft." has. Is Ft. Greene really that bad? I'd have thought they'd want to go with Fort instead of Heights because Fort projects that sense of security that people don't expect venturing into the Manhattan hinterlands.

But then there was "NoMa" (good grief) and now there's controversy about how to pronounce the stupid names in the first place.