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Category: New York names

Gossip Girl (and Boy) Names

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In a desperate attempt to bond with the teenagers in my family, I have become a devoted watcher of Gossip Girl. And as I take in the adventures of these upper-crusty New York teens, I can’t help but ruminate on their names.

What’s remarkable is not so much the names of the characters – BLAIR, the name of the series’ Queen Bee, is the only one that truly fits the mold – but the names of the actors who play them.

No fewer than five of the actors with major roles have names that are eighties-style upwardly-mobile surname-names, perfectly in tune with the style of the show:

BLAKE
CHACE
LEIGHTON
PENN
TAYLOR

(For the uninitiated, Blake, Leighton, and Taylor are girls, Chace and Penn are boys.)

Two other actors have names in the same vein, but not quite as stereotypical:

CONNOR
KELLY

Other names that fit this mold, now more commonly heard on twenty-something interns and junior editors and gallery assistants than on babies, include:

ASHLEY
BRITTANY
CAMERON

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Unique New York Baby Names!

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We got a call yesterday from Don Kaplan, a reporter for the New York Post, who’s doing a story about unique New York (remember that tongue twister?) baby names.

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 dkaplan@nypost.com, 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.

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In the course of leading a basically bicoastal life, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time walking and driving the streets of both New York and L.A.  And I have to say, as rhythmic and melodious as so many of the California names are– e.g. Alameda, Amanita, Mariposa, Morella– for native New Yorker me there’s nothing like the solid, straight-forward, usable street names of downtown Manhattan, from Greenwich Village to the Wall Street area, names resonant with references to early American history.

The names of these meandering streets, lanes and alleys were subject to shifting trends.  Many British names were changed after the Revolutionary War, for example, and for a time fashion dictated that streets named for local property owners would carry the first names only.  Leaders in the War of 1812 provided a goodly share of names, as did figures connected to Trinity Church.

Here are Lower Manhattan street names with their historical roots–any of which would make a possible namesake.

ALLENafter War of 1812 hero Captain William Henry Allen

ANNnamed for either a member of the Beekman clan or the wife of Captain William Henry Allen

ASTOR –named for John Jacob Astor, “the richest man in America

BARCLAYReverend Henry Barclay was the second rector of Trinity Church

BARROW–  artist Thomas Barrow was known for his portraits of Trinity Church

BAXTERoriginally called Orange Street, renamed for Mexican War hero Colonel Charles Baxter

BAYARDNicholas Bayard was mayor of NY in 1686

BENSONEgbert Benson was New York’s first Attorney General

BETHUNE—named for philanthropist Johanna Graham Bethune

BLEECKER—the street ran through the farm of Anthony L. Bleecker

CARMINEfor  Trinity Church vestryman Nicolas Carman (sic)

CATHERINE the wife of land owner Henry Rutgers

CHARLES ––named for landowner Charles Christopher Amos

CHARLTONDr. John Charlton, an English-born surgeon, became president of the N.Y. Medical Society

CHRISTOPHERalso named for Charles Christopher Amos, a local landowner

CHRYSTIE – named for Lt.-Col. John Christie (sic), killed in the War of 1812

CLARKSON – Revolutionary War hero Matthew Clarkson

CLINTONGeorge Clinton, was a Revolutionary War hero and the first governor of New York State

CORNELIA a beloved granddaughter of landowner Robert Herring

CROSBYnamed for William Bedlow Crosby, who inherited much of the Lower East Side

DELANCEYnamed after James De Lancey, Sr, whose farm was located in what is now the LES

DUANEJames Duane was an early mayor of the city

ELDRIDGEnamed for a Lieutenant killed in the War of 1812

ELIZABETHunknown

ESSEXnamed for the English county (as were nearby Norfolk and Suffolk Streets)

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New York Baby Names

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.

Ah, New York, New York.  If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.  And if you can name your baby here without needing therapy or Xanax, then I applaud you.

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.

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