Stop it with this fake neighborhood crap, people

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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?

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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8 thoughts on “Stop it with this fake neighborhood crap, people

  1. Tom,

    I must admit a grievous sin. Many years ago I tried to ignite a trend of calling that area Trifecta, since it sits between the triumvirate neighborhoods of Dupont, U Street, and Adams Morgan and since ‘Trifecta’ sounds like a more serious alternative to ‘Tribeca’.

    Alas, I was not successful.

  2. I think the problem starts with the corny new arrivals moving into the District. Give it up… DC will never be like NYC.

  3. Actually says the guys who has lived in DC since ’96. This topic has annoyed me since they started calling neighborhoods in the shadow of RFK stadium Capitol Hill extended. I’m sure it’s the realtors advising the newly minted transplant that hey, this is what they’re calling these neighborhoods now.

    Tell you what, the day I can leave one of the trendy DC clubs— like Rumors or Sign of the Whale at 4 AM and grab something to eat without having to head to the Georgetown Cafe or—one of the oversized pizza by the slice joints, I’ll give in.

  4. I’m with you Mack. Born and raised here and a big fan of NYC as well as my home city. I HATE the NoMa name. We are not NYC nor should we want or try to be. Growing up it was a sin to copy NY’s style and now it seems that from the kid’s clothes to the naming of a neighborhood we are trying so hard to copy. It makes me sad.

    You’re dead on about Capitol Hill and dead on about NoMa!

  5. As there’s a Coolidge High School in DC that is nowhere near that neighborhood, that suggestion seems doomed to failure.