Before I launch into this, let me assure you that under no terms am I a Hatchardian neighborhood purist. I believe that some dividing lines are, in fact, nebulous, and that while that may be so, there is no need for neighborhood names to get a tenth as crazy as they’ve gotten.
The new from Dan Silverman that the vicinity south of Adams Morgan, and west of U street is to be called SoMo, well, I just about lost my shit. We are a bridge too far, here, people, and we run the risk of other unfortunate bastardizations that are just too unpalatable to consider.
We’re not calling Barracks Row SoCaHi, nor are we calling Brightwood NoCoHi, nor are we going to call the area of Shaw by Howard HoHoHo, or the space between Georgetown and the West End WeEnTown, because names are serious things, and this whole SoHo revolution so completely bogus that I can’t even begin to quantify the problems with it.
I was already fairly unhappy with NoMa, but given the original name (Swampoodle), it’s certainly reasonable to have looked for an alternative to a combination between DC’s worst attribute and an ill-tempered dog. Couldn’t the folks at the BID there have looked for a famous resident to grace the moniker of their neighborhood, instead of jumping to its obvious geographic feature? Must we be so derivative in a city rich with history and culture?
Since I don’t want to just bitch without proposing a solution, here are a couple names that would represent our city better:
- Shepherd Corner, named for Boss Shepherd, who ran DC with an iron first after the Civil War and was responsible for a fair amount of the development Dupont Circle and points north toward Mount Pleasant.
- Douglass Row, named for Frederick Douglass, who lived on 17th Street near the intersection that’s mentioned. The early voice of civil rights, Douglass fought for causes that would go unaddressed for a century. That there already isn’t a neighborhood named for Douglass is a travesty
- Coolidge, named for President Calvin Coolidge, who lived in nearby Dupont in the 1920s when the White House was being remodeled.
Given all the options available, could SoMo really have been the best choice?