How Do Neighborhoods Get Their Names?

Neighborhoods within a city get their names through geographic description, association with certain groups living in the neighborhoods and even branding by real estate investors. A neighborhood's name can also change over time or be rejected by residents in favor of an older, preferred name, such as in the case of rebranding.

Neighborhoods can get their names in many different ways. The name often develops out of how residents in the area or other residents in the city refer to the area. Over time, the name becomes associated with the neighborhood and is adopted by the city on maps and in official documentation.

However, neighborhoods can also be strictly defined and named by real estate groups that purchase land and develop it. They need something to call the new area or renovated area and give it a name. Usually, the name is well-researched and intended to give the neighborhood a certain feeling, like the impression of an upper-class community or a hip, edgy area for young people. Merchants and investors have even renamed their neighborhoods to avoid negative associations. Yellow Hook in Southern Brooklyn became Bay Ridge in the 1850s, when merchants wanted to avoid any association with Yellow Fever, a virulent disease going around at the time, according to AM New York.