Bronx & Brooklyn Names: From the street signs of New York
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:
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on July 22nd, 2010 at 10:05 am
I used to live on S. Elliott in Brooklyn! I also used to pass by some other streets in Ft. Greene that had nice names: (St.) Felix and Willoughby spring to mind. Fun post!
on July 22nd, 2010 at 11:10 am
Brooklyn represent! I currently live on Carlton, but have also lived on Clermont and Myrtle. Not sure I would use those on a child, but I LOVE living in Brooklyn! Great post…
on July 22nd, 2010 at 3:57 pm
I love Creston and Kermit!
on July 22nd, 2010 at 10:14 pm
I like a lot of these names! You know, Bronx is actually a cool name (though I wouldn’t use it)! It’d be a great way to honor my love of the Yankees, seeing as they play in the Bronx! Maybe if The Wentz’s named him Bronx William instead of Bronx Mowgli it would be a little more mainstream. 🙂
on November 30th, 2010 at 11:33 am
i named my son Bronx Uriyah…. Bronx because thats where I grew up , and Uriyah, like Urijah Faber the MMA fighter, the California kid… Its funny my neighbors daughters name is Brooklyn, and a guy I work with named his son Madison Square..
on November 30th, 2010 at 2:07 pm
As a Brooke, from Brooklyn, this was a treat! Madison Square? Interesting…
on January 21st, 2011 at 3:01 pm
My favorite Brooklyn street name is Hawthorne, though I’m not brave enough to use it! I think that’s a cool name though.
on February 8th, 2011 at 7:32 am
Two babies born and named in Williamsburg. My son’s name is Jackson and yes, so’s our cross street… But really he’s named for my middle name: Jacqueline 😉
No Graham on the list? And I spent a minute with the nice ring of Kensington…
on January 31st, 2013 at 1:57 am
Fun post! Interestingly, I live in rural South GA and my next child (girl) would be Auburn and (boy) would be Jessup…Both surnames of significance (yet obscurity in naming) here. Perhaps, we’re more alike than we think!
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