Naming New York neighborhoods is a traditional free-for-all and it's no secret that real-estate brokers shamelessly rebrand areas to make them more attractive to potential renters, buyers and gentrifiers (think "East Williamsburg" aka Bushwick).
Most recently, Gothamist sent some reporters to Crown Heights to ask residents how they felt about a new name being pushed on the Brooklyn neighborhood--ProCro--in an obvious attempt by real estate businesses to attract new clientele with the lure of the richer, cleaner, less crime-ridden neighboring Prospect Heights. They find people not very happy about the new name (or at least not too happy with the reporter):
And at least one state official has had enough.
The New York Times reports that Brooklyn Democrat and State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries is pushing legislation that would require new neighborhood names to be approved by Community Boards, City Council and the Mayor. His bill would also seek to punish brokers who advertise properties located in unofficial, made-up neighborhoods.
"It's the Wild West in New York City right now," he told the Times. "Brokers are allowed to essentially pull names out of thin air in order to rebrand a neighborhood and have the effect of raising rents or home prices."
And while it's understandable that he's angry, it will probably prove too much to legislate something as unofficial as neighborhood nicknames--especially considering that borders constantly change and that demographics are always in flux.
It's also important to remember that neighborhood names are not always the work of real estate brokers but sometimes the communities themselves (think Hudson Heights distinguishing itself from Washington Heights).
Joey Arak over at Curbed seems to get it right:
Would accepted portmanteaus like SoHo and TriBeCa have made the community board cut way back when? Given what we know about our local leaders and their eternal grumpiness about everything, probably not. Can we imagine a world where this actually becomes law? We cannot. Can we imagine a world where valuable time is wasted debating this issue by an inept state government? Can do!