What's in a (Neighborhood) Name?

Monday, April 25, 2011

John Del Signore, managing editor of Gothamist, discusses what happens when Crown Heights becomes "ProCro" or the South Bronx becomes "SoBro."


John Del Signore

Comments [33]

eastProCro from east procro

omg brian --- TARP!@!

btw: i live in east flatbush (east of procro) and i'm disgusted with the idea of this nood being "cool" or trendy or hipster-magnet in any way.
ppl move here to be a-w-a-y from hipsters - why are they encroaching every block

Apr. 25 2011 10:35 PM
DTorres from Nathan Strauss Projects

Unfortunately, minority neighborhoods,
are chock full of street robberies,
gang assaults, petty theft, snatching
pocketbooks, cellphones, or even murder.

On a Bronx street a man was recently,
beaten to death, the alleged perpertrators caught because
of the brave action of a livery
cab driver, who called it in.

White & Asian neighborhoods are not
saturated with street crime, the way that
black and latino neighborhoods are.

People are not afraid in White & Asian
areas, the way they are in the black
and latino places.

You can see and smell the fear in
a black & latino neighborhood.

The Whites are not going in there,
and robbing anybody, the blacks and latinos rob each other.

In NYC, do you hear and see, on the
evening news, gangs of White and
Asians surrounding people and robbing
on the street, doing home invasions,
knocking people over the head to
take their property, snatching their
personal property?

The groups that participate in these
activities are mostly black and latinos.

That is an unfortunate fact of life,
in NYC.

"There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps... then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved."
— Jesse Jackson

Apr. 25 2011 04:51 PM
mark shenk

re. realtors renaming neighborhoods. My partner and I opened DuBuque restaurant 8 months ago and came up with the name not to rename the neighborhood, but created the acronym because we are located 2 blocks from the BQE. I guess it's nice that its been adapted. Mark Shenk

Apr. 25 2011 04:35 PM
roman from manhattan

One wor that failed to come up in the discussion was "racism." These clever real estate names are merely a way of disguising racist attitudes. Example: Clinton Hill means "safe for whites" while Bed Sty means "still black. The caller who referred to her clinton hill place as qualitatively different than the neighborhood twenty blocks away is referring to exactly that aspect. One could sometimes substitute "safe for the middle class" as opposed to "still poor." My point is that these terms are mere covers for racial and class segregation. It is telling that the New York media chooses to see it as an issue of property values and location cache. If the story was in any other city and Brian Lehrer was discussing on his show, you can bet the context would be racism. The fact that he refused to bring up that issue, and neither did any of the callers, points to a sad blindness to a very prevalent problem. Racism and classism don't go away because you call them by another name.

Apr. 25 2011 04:31 PM
Marisa from Bed-Stuy

I called in about living in Bed-Stuy. I wanted to give the perspective of someone who was just in the market to buy a home and now in the market to rent out one of the units. When you have an area in mind, it is not always clearly defined by the neighborhood names provided in the search criteria. Bed-Stuy is huge and I don't want to rename it or disassociate myself from it, I just want to be able to be more specific when advertising my rental unit. And I don't want to feel pressure to just say Clinton Hill because most places in my area are doing so.

Sites like Trulia that are plotting listings on a map are allowing prospective buyers and renters to see the exact location for themselves. If more listings were just presented this way, we wouldn't have this problem.

Apr. 25 2011 01:27 PM
Leaozinho from TwomBri

Peter fr Crown Heights -

I live right arou d the corner from Oliver Street and your former, my current, neighborhood DOES have a name - Two Bridges! Derived from its location between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and notn to be confused by the housing complex of the same bame between the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.

Two Bridges was the home to Gov. Albert Smith (also a presidential nominee) and the St James School was where he had his only formal education.

Two Bridges is part Lower East Side, part Chinatown and part South Street Seaport.

Apr. 25 2011 12:09 PM

To the caller who suggested neighbors getting together and self-defining what your neighborhood is - that may work for some small neighborhoods, but keep in mind bigger neighborhoods are in fact defined by the Community Districts that have very real boundaries. So for example, there need be no confusion as to what is bed-stuy and what is clinton hill. There is a legal boundary. I'd suggest most New Yorkers would benefit from learning something about how their local politics work. Here's a map:

Apr. 25 2011 12:08 PM
Edward from NJ

Realtors have been trying to rebrand Hell's Kitchen as Clinton at least since the '80s. The neighborhood atmosphere actually has become "Clinton", but New Yorkers like the grittiness of the Hell's Kitchen moniker.

Apr. 25 2011 12:07 PM
jeff from peoples republic brooklyn

Hurray for Assembyman Jeffries; he seems
on of our brighter political lights.
Look at this as just the ongoing rebranding
of NYC into some generic "gotham". The
erasure of historical identity of these neighborhoods and specifically the blatant
racial subtexts expressed by the caller who
needs to distinguish "her" Bed-Stuy" from
"their" Bed-Stuy. And for the young people
coming to NYC now, their will be no memory
outside of "Yorkville North" (El Barrio) and
"Clinton" (Hells Kitchen). Its like when I say I am
taking the IRT to my destination, and the kids look at me like I'm from another city.

Apr. 25 2011 12:05 PM

The real estate industrial complex has done almost as much damage to the real estate market as Wall Street.

Apr. 25 2011 12:03 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Yay, Abigails is definately in Crown Heights - one block in from Prospect Heights but still Crown Heights and going strong.

Apr. 25 2011 11:58 AM
Helene from Woodside

The very possible but very upsetting prospect that rent stab laws will sunset this summer will have a much greater negative impact on NYC communities than what neighborhoods are called. I appreciate the neighborhood naming critiques...but the rent stab issue is a much bigger problem that hasn't gotten enough coverage or concern in the city.

Apr. 25 2011 11:57 AM
Anne from Hell's Kitchen

I live in Hell's Kitchen. Will always live in Hell's Kitchen. However, some realtors think I live in Clinton. WTF? Clinton?! And, just recently, I've seen billboards touting my area (40s, west of Time Square), as MiMa. (midtown manhattan). What the hell is wrong with Hell's Kitchen?! Best neighborhood name ever.


Apr. 25 2011 11:56 AM
Henry from NYC

What is the best "official" map?

I live near Baruch College on Lexington Ave.

It’s South of Murray Hill, and North of Gramercy proper, but various neighborhood maps vary wildly.

Apr. 25 2011 11:56 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The problem is mis-labeling neighborhoods as opposed to making them up. As per Tracy, Prospect Heights ends at Washington Ave but Realtors, LL'S, and yes OWNERS call as far as Nostrand Ave, Prospect Heights.

Apr. 25 2011 11:55 AM
Dani from Brooklyn

I've heard people who live in Prospect Heights refer to "Prospect Heights proper" as "the TRAP" or triangle above the park. The triangle being Flatbush-Vanderbilt-Atlantic.

Apr. 25 2011 11:54 AM
Diane Villani from 10012

I used to live in Little Italy but now it is Nolita, a very different place from what it was thirty-two years ago when we moved here.

Apr. 25 2011 11:54 AM
john from office

This is about race, all about race.

Apr. 25 2011 11:54 AM
Mitch from Manhattan

As of the early 80's, Chelsea was originally a very specific area - between 7th and 10th Aves between 14th and 23rd.

Realtors started calling lower midtown Chelsea - sounded a lot better, but did not live like it at all.
All these name changes are realtor-inspired.

Apr. 25 2011 11:54 AM

caller who called in about east b'burg to bushwick:

it was bushwick before it was east williamsburg, so it just reverted back once enough hipsters were lured into a cheaper version of b'burg...

Apr. 25 2011 11:53 AM
kent from hell's kitchen

what is wrong with hell's kitchen? it was good enough for spiderman and daredevil comics .
i never will call it clinton or chelsea clinton?

Apr. 25 2011 11:53 AM
Peter from Crown Heights

My wife and I used to live on Oliver Street, Downtown, in a neighborhood without a name. Not Chinatown, not lower east side.

We jokingly called our neighborhood,
SoChBeBroBrMaBr (pronounced So-Chi Bee-Bro-Brim-Ah-Breh)

For South of Chinatown between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. We thought it was hilarious and stupid...but boy, now that I realize I live in ProPro or whatever. Stupid has won out.

Apr. 25 2011 11:53 AM

What's the problem here? My neighborhood south of So Ho (So So) has a perfectly finer name.

Apr. 25 2011 11:52 AM

The change I noticed was not from a realtor but on The Weather Channel's app on my phone which registered my Fordham location as Fordham Heights.

Apr. 25 2011 11:51 AM
Abigail from I wish I knew!

We opened Abigail Cafe & Wine Bar 3 years in what we were told was Prospect Heights but most people who are from the area agree that we are in Crown Heights. Then 2 weeks ago New York Magazine called us Pro-Crown Heights.

Apr. 25 2011 11:51 AM
hmi from Park Slope

To his dying day, my father bristled at the East Village, West Village names. In his view, there was Greenwich Village and then a bunch of realtors who didn't like the name East Side.

Apr. 25 2011 11:51 AM
antonio from b-town

Tracy, your friend lives in crown heights...

Apr. 25 2011 11:51 AM
antonio from b-town

I just moved to b-town, bayside queens...

Apr. 25 2011 11:48 AM
Elizabeth Kellner from Manhattan Valley

I've lived in Manhattan Valley for 34 years. Now all of a sudden it's hot and real estate people have been redefining the traditional neighborhood boundaries to pick up new luxury housing developments and chain store retail. About twelve years ago an enterprising real broker, who has since sold several of the very few 25 or so brownstones in Manhattan Valley, just completely made up the name "Doctors' Row" for his marketing because of the proximity of the former New York Cancer Hospital. It makes me nuts. I love Manhattan Valley and even bought my kids sweatshirts with the neighborhood name emblazoned on the front.

Apr. 25 2011 11:38 AM
a g from n j

my typos are horrible ..sorry..

Apr. 25 2011 11:27 AM
Severn from Brooklyn

My favorite - (my wife and I are house-hunting right now) - is "DUBUQuE": Down Under the BQE. We call our current neighbourhood in Brooklyn "SoSlo" (for "South of the Slope") rather than the new appellation "Greenwood Heights" .

Apr. 25 2011 11:05 AM
Tracy from NYC

I have a friend who lives near the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn. She keeps telling me she lives in Prospect Heights, which I picture as being somewhere closer to the Brooklyn Museum. Who’s right? If enough people start calling this area Prospect Heights, is that enough to change the name of the neighborhood?

Apr. 25 2011 11:05 AM
a g from n j

makes me thinks of chelsea and clinton [manhattan]. from what i remember growing up in chelsea before it was transitioning,there was chelsea and chelsea-clinton,clinton being mostly north and west of chelsea. i never remember clinton,really being thought of as a neighborhood that was distinct unto itself. to this day, clinton is a much less trendy or happening place than chelsea [for whatever that is worth]. that's neither old hood' sentiment, nostalgia, nor chauvanism on my part. just a statement of fact. but who's heard of of anyone talking about clinton they way they talk about chelsea ?............unless, they are talking ex first family stuff.....maybe.

Apr. 25 2011 10:55 AM

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