THE BLOG

New York, New York -- So Good They Named it Twice (and Just Kept Going)

03/09/2015 04:10 pm ET | Updated May 06, 2015

Another month goes by and another New York neighborhood gets a re-brand. It's part of the constant gentrification of the city -- ditch the old name, ditch the reputation, start again.

Take Hell's Hundred Acres, or the Gas House District. Sound appealing -- no? How about SoHo and Stuy Town? Same places, different names.

Hell's Hundred Acres was the one that kicked it all off back in the 1960s, when a City Planning Commission decided to rename it SoHo, an abbreviation of South of Houston.

After that came more. Some stuck: TriBeCa, NoMad, NoLiTa, DUMBO. Some not so much: LoHo, BelDel, SoBro, NoBro, BoCoCa, ProCro, GoCaGa.

There's fun to be had playing the neighborhood naming game -- that's for sure. But there's a serious side to all this. Gentrification is a hot topic in New York. Everyone loves a new coffee shop on their block but, as rents rise and New Yorkers get squeezed out of neighborhoods they've called home for years, is N.Y.C. simply becoming a city for rich people?

Steve Earle spells it out in "Down Here Below" (from Washington Square Serenade):

Now Hell's Kitchen's Clinton
And the Bowery's Nolita
And the East Village's creepin'
Across the Williamsburg Bridge.

Hey, whatever happened
To Alphabet City?
Ain't no place left in this town
That a poor boy can go.

With average rents for a one-bed in N.Y.C. standing at $2,945 for 2014 -- and even rooms in apartment shares averaging $1,380 -- the gentrification game is making the city unaffordable.

In the end, it doesn't matter what you call a neighborhood -- what matters is whether New York is still affordable enough to retain the creativity, diversity and rich cultural mix that make it the icon it is and will (hopefully) remain.