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Category: city names

What’s Your Favorite Place Name?

place names

Place names for people are a category that’s exploded over the past generation.

A couple of decades ago, names like Dakota and Chelsea were hot and trendy, while  Paris and London were wildly exotic.

Today, place name possibilities have moved far beyond such standards as Asia and Georgia.

There are popular city names — Savannah, Brooklyn, Milan — as well as state and country names, from Indiana to India.

There are place names that reference mountain ranges, like Sierra, or bodies of water, such as Hudson.  Place names can even refer to otherworldly locales, such as Heaven, Orion, or Zion.

Some place names owe their popularity to the epically beautiful places they reference: Kenya, for instance, and Venice.  And then there are those names that are much more attractive than the places they represent: We’re thinking of Trenton, Camden, Detroit.

Several celebrities have helped make the place name fashion more, well, fashionable.  Just last year, Reese Witherspoon had a son named Tennessee, while Jemima Kirke named her boy Memphis.

Our question this week: Would you use a place name for your child?  Have you used one?  In the first place, or only as a middle?

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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:

ANDREWS

ANTHONY

BRANDT

CEDAR

CLIFFORD

CRESTON

DAVIDSON

(Mt) EDEN

FORDHAM

GERARD

HARRISON

HENNESSEY

JEROME

JESSUP

LORING

MONTGOMERY

MORRIS

MORTON

NELSON

OSBORNE

PELHAM

PHELAN

SELWYN

SHAKESPEARE

VALENTINE

WALTON

WEBSTER

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:

AINSLIE

ALABAMA

ALBANY

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