Category: brooklyn baby names
Like Jenny-from-the-block (well maybe not quite), I was a roller-skating, rope-jumping, potsy- (hopscotch to you) playing child of the Bronx streets. At that time I was completely unaware of how the mostly pretentious –sounding names of those streets might have referred back to past heroic figures (Popham? Burnside? Bathgate?). In my mind what they were identified with was the kids I knew who lived on them—Nelson Avenue was associated with the Mazur sisters, Jessup with my classmate Nancy, Loring with my bf Margery’s grandmother, and Shakespeare with my elementary school.
(One name that fascinated me and couldn’t be ignored was Featherbed Lane, a street that I passed on the way to school every day and was home to my Aunt Pearl and family. It was only later that I discovered the probable origins of the name—that during the Revolutionary War, locals covered the street with feather beds so that the soldiers fighting the British could move quietly through the area—though there were other explanations as well.)
Here are some of the mostly surname names from my neighborhood and beyond:
During my childhood, if you were from the Bronx, it was practically in your DNA to hate all things Brooklyn. But now that I’ve matured into a more rational and objective name observer, I do have to admit that that other borough does have a better selection of street names—less stuffy and a lot more that are actually suited to a baby. In fact there are so many Courts and Places with standard first names that you have to wonder if the streets weren’t named after the builders’ own babies.
Here’s a selection—there are lots more:
Having a baby in New York City is different from having one anywhere else, and that includes choosing a name.
The most popular New York baby names are a departure from the popular names in the rest of the country, for one thing. Daniel tops the boys’ chart for the very first time in the 2007 New York City name popularity statistics, with Jayden rising to number two. Sorry, Mayor Bloomberg, but Michael has now fallen from the top spot to number 3 for the first time in 50 years. Isabella and Sophia tied for number one for girls, unseating Ashley and Emily.
Other names that are higher on the New York popularity list than they are in the rest of the country include, for girls: Rachel, Chloe, Angelina, and Esther, and for boys, Justin, Sebastian, and David.
The reason? The diverse ethnic population accounts for much of the unique mix of New York baby names. One of the few locales that breaks down name popularity by ethnicity, names high on the list for Hispanic babies born in New York City include Angel, Luis, and Jose for boys; Mia, Angelina, and Sofia for girls.
African-American parents differed from those of other ethnic backgrounds in favoring names of black celebrities. Jada, Imani and Aaliyah were high on the girls’ popularity list, while Elijah and Isaiah were popular for boys.
The Asian popularity list featured some counterintuitive ethnic favorites. The number one name for Asian baby boys is Ryan, for example, with Kevin, Vincent, and Ivan also ranking high. For girls, Tiffany, Fiona, and Winnie, a name that doesn’t even break the national top 1000, are popular.
And then there are names on the New York City list popular among Hasidic Jewish parents that are virtually unheard of elsewhere in the country: Malky, Raizy, and Shira for girls; Moishe, Chaim, and Menacham for boys. Plus ethnic choices such as Fatoumata, Xin, Tatiana, and Mohamed that reflect New York’s special mix.
But New York wouldn’t truly be New York without a range of sophisticated names as well. Names favored by New York parents and found here more often than in other parts of the country include such refined choices as Sebastian, Julian, and Henry for boys, and Alexandra, Charlotte, and Alice for girls. Maximus and Giuliana (yes, Giuliana) have an only-in-New York quality, though Rudy was not to be found.
Of course, beyond the most popular list, there are names that are trendy in hip New York that are still rarely heard in most parts of the country. Oscar, Ruby, Atticus, and Isla may be bordering on overexposed in Tribeca and Park Slope, but might still be radical choices west of the Hudson River.
Chelsea is one New York neighborhood name that does show up on the popularity list, just outside the Top 100. New York parents — or fans of the city — in search of more original local choices might want to consult the list of New York baby names based on the city neighborhoods.