November 9, 2009

What defines a neighbourhood? Real estate agents?

Did you know that there is no neighbourhood of “Yorkville” according to the City of Toronto? In fact it is just a part of The Annex. However, ask most downtown residents and they will tell you that there is most definitely a neighbourhood called Yorkville. We even have it listed on BuzzBuzzHome’s map (here).

Where did Leslieville come from? Didn’t the Village of Leslieville used to be known as South Riverdale, until it was branded Leslieville for marketing purposes? It is still not considered “Leslieville” by the City (here). Did you know that one developer/agent was trying to sell/build “Leslieville Lofts” in Riverside (article)? Jeeze… this was highly opposed by neighbourhood residents due to the name.

New York has some of the most fun neighbourhood names, from BoCoCa to Gramurray to SoHo to Tribeca and beyond.. however, it is the real estate industry that tries to create cool new names to attract buyers and renters. According to the Daily News:

SoHo, short for south of Houston St., and Tribeca, for the triangle below Canal St., have been around for decades and are as bona fide as Greenwich Village. NoHo, north of Houston St., and Nolita, the abbreviation for north of Little Italy, are newer but well-established.

You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find many people who call the Bowery below Houston St. by its new nickname – BoHo.

The shorthand for the “iron triangle” of Willets Point in Queens – iTri – seems destined to go the way of the Mets’ postseason hopes.

BoCoCa, an amalgamation of three old-school Brooklyn neighborhoods – Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill – never caught fire.

GoCaGa for Gowanus and Carroll Gardens invited ridicule. So did SunSlope, a name invented by a broker trying to sell condos in Greenwood Heights, which some consider a fancier name for Sunset Park.

The force behind the rebranding is the real estate industry. Brokers are known for pushing boundaries: Park Slope must be twice as big as it was 30 years ago, and newcomers to Bushwick are told they’re buying in East Williamsburg.

Seeing as I do not care much to venture North of Bloor Street in the City of Toronto, I have tried to rebrand the City with two general neighbourhoods: NoBloo and SoBloo. Obviously, standing for “North of Bloor” and “South of Bloor”. So far it has caught on with one friend from the UK.

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