Monday, January 18, 2010

BoCoCa??? Really???

I'm taking a bit of a different tact with this post. To be perfectly honest, this post should go on my other blog page: The Observations and Rants of a Native New Yorker (I know, I should be ashamed by the cheap mention of my other blog on this one but I'll take what I can get). Since there is a bit of a historical New York City slant to this one, I decided on it being here. So let's ride with it.

Alright, this whole naming of neighborhoods with an acronym is going too far. I'll admit, TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal Street) has a certain caché to it but isn't bad enough that Brooklyn has a neighborhood named after a big-eared elephant (Actually DUMBO an acronym for the Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass not the Disney character). Now there's a new one called BoCoCa, which is an amalgam of the neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Umm, excuse me, but what was wrong with Boreum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Not only is gentrification stripping classical New York City neighborhoods of their look and character, now names are being wiped away into the annals of history. Similar to the movement of renaming Hell's Kitchen to Clinton, the same is happenening to the good old "Brook-a-line". Let me clue you good folks in on where the names of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens comes from.

Boerum Hill derives its name from the Dutch colonial landowners of the area: The Boreum family. The patriarch of the family Willem Jacobse Van Boerum immigrated to New Amsterdam in 1649. His great grandson Simon Boerum was a landowner of the area that is named after his family.

The Boerum Hill Neighborhood Assocation
An excellent page on things that have faded into NYC History

The exact history behind the name Cobble Hill is somewhat of a mystery to me. What I have read is that the original name of the area was "Cobleshill". On the hill, a fort was built by General Nathanial Greene for the defense of Long Island (Brooklyn) during the Revolutionary War. The neighborhood was designated an Historic District on December 30, 1969.

City of New York Community Board Six webpage
A New York Times article on Cobble Hill from 2001
The Gowanus Lounge on Blogspot

Carroll Gardens is named after Charles Carroll of Maryland. Carroll was a Revolutionary War veteran and the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence The neighborhood was designated an Historic District on September 25, 1973.

The City of New York Community Board Six Webpage
The Brooklyn Public Library's page on Carroll Gardens
The Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association Webpage

Sure, some of you will read the information on the links that I posted and you'll see that the names of these neighborhoods were changed from the generic South Brooklyn because of the need by some of its residents to shed the negative stigma of the past and to pave the way for gentrification. Which is what I am describing with the umbrella term of BoCoCa. At least the names of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens have their roots in New York and American Histories. To me, BoCoCa sounds way too fake and so "Un" New York. So come on, let's leave the names on these neighborhoods alone. Call them as they should be called.

BUT, if you insist on changing the way these neighborhoods are referred to, check out these sites:

The Gothamist: BoCoCa: Not a New Cocoa
A PDF file from on BoCoCa

So let me know what you think. Change them or not.

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