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Category: place names

Big Apple Baby Names

newyork

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

Apollo Theater

Bethesda Fountain, in Central Park

Bryant Park

Cedar Tavern—watering hole of Abstract Expressionist painters

Chelsea

Chumley’s– legendary writers’ hangout

Cleopatra’s Needle—obelisk in Central Park

Cooper Union

Dakota Apartments

Duffy Square

Finn Square

Grace Church

Gracie Square and Mansion

Harlem

Henry Street Settlement

Hudson River—and Street

Isham Park

Judson Memorial Church, scene of early art world ‘happenings’

Lenox Hill and Avenue

Lincoln Center

Nolita (acronym for North of Little Italy)

Sardi‘s–show biz restaurant

Sheridan Square

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Whitney Museum

…and a few of the best Manhattan street names

Astor Place

Baxter Street

Carmine Street

Christopher Street

Cornelia Street

Crosby Street

Delancey Street

Fletcher Street

Henry Street

Horatio Street

Hudson Street

Houston Street (pronounced HOW-ston)

Jane Street

Mercer Street

Milligan Place

Minetta Lane, Tavern

Oliver Street

Pearl Street

Sullivan Street

Sutton Place

Thayer Street

Varick Street

Waverly Place

PEOPLE—just a few of the countless notables who were born, lived, or are otherwise associated with the Big Apple

Althea Gibson– tennis champ, grew up in Harlem

Ambrose Kingsland, NYC mayor, 1851-53

AudenW.H.– poet and long-time Village resident

Cass Gilbert–architect of the Woolworth Building

Clay Felker– founder of New York magazine

Cole Porter–composer of the song “I Happen to Like New York

Dawn Powell– Prohibition-era New York novelist

Djuna Barnes–wrote Greenwich Village As It Is

Ebenezer Wilson, NYC mayor, 1707-10

Edna St. Vincent MillayPulitzer Prize-winning poet , Greenwich Village resident

Elisha Graves Otis– elevator inventor, responsible for the verticality of New York

Emma Lazarus, her poem is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty

Eustace Tilley—monocled cartoon symbol of The New Yorker

Fiorello La Guardia, three-term mayor in the 1930s and 40s

Gideon Lee, NYC mayor, 1833-34

Humphrey Bogartgrew up on West 103rd Street

Jackson Pollock– painter who lived in Greenwich Village before moving to the Hamptons

Langston Hughes—key figure in the Harlem Renaissance

Lennon, John—lived and died in New York

Matthias Nicoll–NYC mayor, 1672-73

Nellie Blyearly bold investigative journalist in the New York World newspaper

Poe, Edgar Allan–in addition to his literary achievements, was editor of The Broadway Journal

Tallulah Bankhead–Broadway actress and sometime member of the “Algonquin Round Table”

Truman Capote–moved to New York at the age of 17

Zora Neale Hurston—writer, a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance

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waterblg

April showers bring not only May flowers, but thoughts of water names, a category which more and more parents are finding refreshingly appealing. These include generic bodies of water appellations like Lake and Bay and Brook(e), the names of individual lakes and rivers and, finally, names whose meaning relate to water. Here are the Nameberry Picks for the 12 best water names.

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catalina-island-vintage-travel-poster

A few blogs back, we talked about lake names, and what an evocative word that is. Another, similarly appealing word is island, calling up images of calm, peaceful, isolated places surrounded by the sea.  We’re not suggesting you name your baby Island (though Isla comes close), but here are the Nameberry Picks of 15 favorite island names.

  1. Aranthe Aran Isles are a group of three islands off the Irish coast, at the mouth of Galway Bay, known for uniquely-patterned sweaters and the iconic 1934 documentary, Man of Aran.  Aran would make a nice Irish-accented name, but would it be confused with Aaron?  ‘Fraid so.
  2. Catalina—Santa Catalina is one of the California Channel Islands and is a popular tourist destination for Angelinos and others.  A Spanish version of Catherine that is more delicate and feminine than the English one, Catalina has been rising in popularity since the late eighties.
  3. Cayman—the Caymans consist of three islands in the western Caribbean south of Cuba. Peaceful and beautiful, they are also a major offshore banking hub.  The name Cayman would fit right in with Cayden & Co.
  4. Corsica, famed as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, is a mountainous Mediterranean island, part of France but closer to Tuscany than the French coast.  The name could be thought of as a Cora-elaboration with a feminissima ‘ica’ ending.

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undiscovered girl

The other day we offered eight fresh choices for boys, and now it’s the girls’ turn—girls’ names ranging from a rare botanical specimen to a nostalgic nickname to an undercrowded place name.

1–Acacia—This a a pretty and delicate botanical name that has hardly been heard in this country, though it ranked as high as Number 273 among girls’ names in Australia, where the Acacia is a common flowering shrub, in 2008.  Acacia has a heritage that dates back to ancient Egyptian mythology, in which it was considered the tree of life due to the belief that the first gods were born under a sacred Acacia tree.  There is also an eponymous fantasy novel, Acacia. Caveat: just don’t think about the other name of the Acacia tree—the Golden Wattle.

2–AmabelNot to be confused with Annabel (though it well might be), the lovely Amabel has been around since medieval times, and has appeared in a number of British novels, including Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death, and heard as well as among the English aristocracy.  Amabel gave birth to the shortened form Mabel, which has a much brasher image, and we think a name that means lovable, deserves more love than it’s gotten.

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cornwall

The distinguished British name expert Julia Cresswell is the author of several books on the subject, the most recent of which is Name Your Baby.

The British Prime Minister recently chose the Cornish name Endellion as the middle name for his new daughter.  The baby was premature, and born while the family was on holiday in Cornwall, and Endellion was chosen because the family regularly holidayed at the little village of St Endellion, so strictly speaking the name belongs with the growing trend to use place names (such as Dakota, Savannah) as first names.  However, it is also a traditional Cornish name.

But first a bit of background.  Cornwall is a popular holiday place because of its unspoilt beauty. Its unspoilt beauty comes from the fact that its position at the extreme south west of England makes it isolated.  This isolation protected it in the past, and led to the preservation of a uniquely Cornish culture.

1500 years ago, when the rest of England was being taken over by the Anglo-Saxons, Cornwall remained independent and retained its own language, descended from the language of the ancient British and closely related to Welsh,  into the 18th century.  This language is the source of many of the specially Cornish names, while the distinctive West-Country way of pronouncing English has been another source. 

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