What Does the Acronym DUMBO Stand For?

Manhattan Bridge from Washington St

For a resident and someone who’s written about Dumbo for at least a year, I find the above question is pretty obvious. But I’m certainly no expert. I’ve always known Dumbo to be Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The naming of Dumbo was conceived by resident artists as a way to make the area sound silly and unattractive to people looking to buy real estate here. But when reader sent in the question that Dumbo could stand for Down Under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Overpasses, it makes more sense than the more well known version because Dumbo is generally between the bridges:

“I’ve always understood DUMBO to stand for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” Of course, if you think about it, “Bridge” and “Overpass” are redundant and it sounds like there is an overpass that goes OVER the Manhattan Bridge. A colleague of mine whose friends are friends with Jed Walentas, told me that she read an article on the Walentas family where DUMBO was defined as “Down Under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Overpasses,” which makes more sense. And, if you google that meaning, you get quite a few hits.”

So which is it?

28 Comment

  • Not to confuse this anymore but I had also heard that the “D” was for “District” and not “Down”.

  • Not to confuse this anymore but I had also heard that the “D” was for “District” and not “Down”.

  • I have always heard it’s Down Under Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass this makes the most sense to me. Bridge doesn’t make sense because as you state, Bridge and Overpass are redundant.

  • I have always heard it’s Down Under Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass this makes the most sense to me. Bridge doesn’t make sense because as you state, Bridge and Overpass are redundant.

  • I haven’t asked friends who are friends of Jed’s, but Two Trees own website says Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass – see http://dumbo-newyork.com/
    and I googled “Down Under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Overpasses” and got only a few blog hits – nothing more substantial.

  • I haven’t asked friends who are friends of Jed’s, but Two Trees own website says Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass – see http://dumbo-newyork.com/
    and I googled “Down Under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Overpasses” and got only a few blog hits – nothing more substantial.

  • I think it’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass also. If you want to look at the Bridge/Overpass thing a different way… The bridge is what goes over the river. There’s nothing about going over the river that implies an overpass on land, and without the word overpass being under a bridge sounds sketchy. Also, what’s a Manhattan Overpass? What’s a Brooklyn Overpass? Isn’t the BQE a Brooklyn overpass along the stretches that it’s an elevated roadway? The grammatical nonsense could go on forever. I think it just did:)

    But I don’t think anyone thought that hard about it back in the day. The Manhattan Bridge is closer to the middle of Dumbo and that’s probably where the party was at when they picked the name.

  • I think it’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass also. If you want to look at the Bridge/Overpass thing a different way… The bridge is what goes over the river. There’s nothing about going over the river that implies an overpass on land, and without the word overpass being under a bridge sounds sketchy. Also, what’s a Manhattan Overpass? What’s a Brooklyn Overpass? Isn’t the BQE a Brooklyn overpass along the stretches that it’s an elevated roadway? The grammatical nonsense could go on forever. I think it just did:)

    But I don’t think anyone thought that hard about it back in the day. The Manhattan Bridge is closer to the middle of Dumbo and that’s probably where the party was at when they picked the name.

  • who cares… we all love this hood.

  • who cares… we all love this hood.

  • I’ve lived in DUMBO for 10 years, and have friends who’ve lived here for a few years longer and I’ve never heard anything but Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

  • I’ve lived in DUMBO for 10 years, and have friends who’ve lived here for a few years longer and I’ve never heard anything but Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

  • When art school classmates of mine moved to dumbo in the 1970′s it was simply Down Under the Manhattan Bridge. I’ve always though “Overpass” was rather literal-minded (or dumb-o if you prefer).

  • When art school classmates of mine moved to dumbo in the 1970′s it was simply Down Under the Manhattan Bridge. I’ve always though “Overpass” was rather literal-minded (or dumb-o if you prefer).

  • The good news is we don’t have to guess. We can call the local city offices and find out what is on the books.

    Personally I like: District under the Manhattan Brooklyn overpass.

  • The good news is we don’t have to guess. We can call the local city offices and find out what is on the books.

    Personally I like: District under the Manhattan Brooklyn overpass.

  • really? is that type of thing “on the books?” I thought all neighborhood names, unless they are a BID or a “historic district,” are just convention.

  • really? is that type of thing “on the books?” I thought all neighborhood names, unless they are a BID or a “historic district,” are just convention.

  • DUMBO was equally applied to two nabes. One on the Brooklyn shore, and the other the Peck Slip area of Manhattan. No “overpass” required, but it comes in handy to justify the final letter. Whoever’s friends with Jed Walentas should certainly look for better company…

  • DUMBO was equally applied to two nabes. One on the Brooklyn shore, and the other the Peck Slip area of Manhattan. No “overpass” required, but it comes in handy to justify the final letter. Whoever’s friends with Jed Walentas should certainly look for better company…

  • what makes sense to me is that the NAME of the bridge is called Manhattan Bridge, AND it’s an overpass. Thus, the area is (D)own (U)nder the (M)anhattan (B)ridge (name of the bridge), which is an (O)verpass.
    If the bridge belonged to Mike it would be called Mike’s Bridge. So the name of the Overpass would be referred to as “Mike’s Bridge.” Thus the acronym for Mike’s Bridge in that area would also be DUMBO.

  • what makes sense to me is that the NAME of the bridge is called Manhattan Bridge, AND it’s an overpass. Thus, the area is (D)own (U)nder the (M)anhattan (B)ridge (name of the bridge), which is an (O)verpass.
    If the bridge belonged to Mike it would be called Mike’s Bridge. So the name of the Overpass would be referred to as “Mike’s Bridge.” Thus the acronym for Mike’s Bridge in that area would also be DUMBO.

  • down under the manhattan bridge overpass. truly relating to a handful of buildings that sit under the manhattan bridge overpass and used to be filled with artists. now there’s a building on tillary claiming to be in dumbo as well as all of the buildings in fulton ferry and fulton landing. funny how a goofy name to keep folks away has now become such a trendy acronym. ironic, i must say.

  • down under the manhattan bridge overpass. truly relating to a handful of buildings that sit under the manhattan bridge overpass and used to be filled with artists. now there’s a building on tillary claiming to be in dumbo as well as all of the buildings in fulton ferry and fulton landing. funny how a goofy name to keep folks away has now become such a trendy acronym. ironic, i must say.

  • Anyone notice the pizza at Front St has been tasting so much better ever since smokey started working there.

  • Anyone notice the pizza at Front St has been tasting so much better ever since smokey started working there.

  • As per Wikipedia-it’s Down Under The
    Manhattan Bridge Overpass

  • As per Wikipedia-it’s Down Under The
    Manhattan Bridge Overpass