Category: new york baby names
There are countless reasons to visit New York City. Museums to visit and galleries to hop. Great theater, opera and ballet. Sights to see, people to watch and fashion-forward stores to shop. But it turns out there’s another, less expected thing to shop for—and that’s a Manhattan-inspired baby name.
We’ve looked at some of the street names before–a Manhattan avenue, after all, was the inspiration for the extraordinary success of the name Madison– but a thread on our own forums, “Need a Big Apple Middle Name” a while back inspired us to us to look beyond the street signs of NYC for other places and people that are quintessentially Gotham.
PLACES—nabes, rivers, parks, etc
Ansonia hotel and then apartments
Cedar Tavern—watering hole of Abstract Expressionist painters
Chumley’s– legendary writers’ hangout
Gracie Square and Mansion
Judson Memorial Church, scene of early art world ‘happenings’
Sardi‘s–show biz restaurant
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
…and a few of the best Manhattan street names
PEOPLE—just a few of the countless notables who were born, lived, or are otherwise associated with the Big Apple
Ambrose Kingsland, NYC mayor, 1851-53
Auden, W.H.– poet and long-time Village resident
Eustace Tilley—monocled cartoon symbol of The New Yorker
Fiorello La Guardia, three-term mayor in the 1930s and 40s
Tallulah Bankhead–Broadway actress and sometime member of the “Algonquin Round Table”
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:
Don spent the past week poring over a quarter million names — yes, many of them pretty crazy — given to New York babies over the past few years. Examples include, with a New York theme, Harlem, Manhattan, and Bronx; with a sports angle, Jeter and LeBron; and with a religious bent, Rabbi, Priest, and Jesuskingoftheworld.
You’ve got your Sully, after the pilot who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River, and your Matisyahu, after the hip-hop star. There’s a Royalty, a Success, and a Winner; a Tolkien and one poor boy whose name is Mudd.
And now Don is reaching out to find out YOUR unique New York baby name. If you are a New York City parent who’s given your child a distinctive baby name with a pop culture inspiration, Don wants to hear what it is and how you chose it. You can tell your stories here and/or contact Don directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-930-8656.
And sure, if you want to tattle on your neighbors who named their baby Keeno or just share a crazy New York baby-naming story, tell us that too.
Journalist and New York City mom Laura Dunphy reports that the pressure is on for Gotham parents to choose baby names that are more creative, more unusual, cooler than those anyone else is using. But no matter how hard you try, you still might not make it.
That’s because like everything else in NYC, baby naming is intense. If most people think naming children is a pleasant activity, like badminton or a picnic, Manhattanites treat it as a competitive sport, like rugby or bond trading.
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.