Monday, March 14, 2011

#293: Neighborhood, Abbreviated

Tribeca, NYC

Snappy names: all neighborhoods need them, and if you don't believe me, just ask a New York realtor. The patch of land in Brooklyn where I live has been called, depending on who you ask, Cobble Hill, Cobble Hill West, Red Hook, Columbia Waterfront District, Salt Pile District (just made that one up), and surely many more are being proposed as I write this.

A clever acronym or desirable set of syllables can go a long way in describing a region, and I know I took some delight in learning what all the New York acronyms stood for when I first moved to the city. You've got Tribeca (or TriBeCa, depending on your copyeditor) for Triangle Below Canal street, SoHo for South of Houston, NoHo for North of Houston. Brooklyn's got DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and the thankfully never-caught-on BoCoCa (Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens), the silly acronym the Village Voice once tried to pin on my band. It can all seem ABiMu after awhile (A Bit Much).

Fortunately, there is the AIA Guide to New York City to the rescue, which I frequently flip to for its scintillating research, delightful history lessons, and just enough snark to keep me glued to each entry. The guide is divided up into neighborhoods and, when real names just aren't good enough, they never hesitate to present some viable options. Because of the AIA guide, I now enjoy wandering not just through Tribeca but through the Glass Box District, and perhaps my favorite (architectural tongue firmly in cheek): HoTunA (Holland Tunnel Approach), the so-called neighborhood with enough car exhaust to asphixiate a casual passerby.

So whether your neighborhood has a sanctioned name or not, what's your take on all the fussy nomenclature? And what, if you wanted to mess with your realtor's PR department, would you dub the place where you dwell?

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