Dumbo, the Historic District With the Modern Name

In the weekend’s Brooklyn Papers article, this question is posed: what do you name a historic district whose name is a modern concoction? “City officials are moving ahead with plans to create a historic district in DUMBO – whose acronymic name was created by developer David Walentas when he started buying up buildings in the 1980s to evoke an earlier uber-hip neighborhood, Soho.” People (or developers?) in NYC have a knack for naming and renaming neighborhoods by acronym or syllabic abbreviations: first SoHo, then Tribeca, NoHo, Nolita, BoCoCa, Dumbo, and even SoBro, SoHell and SoFi.

According to the NYC Dept of City Planning, only SoHo, NoHo, and Tribeca are recognized. However, the Official NYC website has a website dedicated to Dumbo. The MTA maps in the subway stations recognize SoHo, Tribeca, NoHo, and Dumbo. The article provides some past Dumbo area names:

The first name was Rapailie, after the family who owned most of the land. But in the centuries to follow, the area would be called “Olympia,” “Fulton Landing” and finally “Gairville,” after the early-20th century industrialist Robert Gair, who manufactured paper bags and corrugated cardboard boxes at 45 Washington St.

Until the 1980s and early 1990s, the western portion of neighborhood was known as Fulton Landing, became known as DUMBO. Despite the quirky name, it would cause more confusion to call the area Rapailie, Olympia, Gairville, or Walentasville, as some have suggested. Should the Historic Districts Council continue to use the name Dumbo as a historic district?

{Finding history in DUMBO – Landmark district in ‘new’ nabe still nameless, Brookly Papers, 11/25/06}
{Curbed.com neighborhood names}
{NextStop NYC, NYC.gov}
{Historic Districts Council, Dumbo neighborhood}

{How Dumbo Got Its Name and What It Was Almost Called, 21May2007}
{LPC Approves Dumbo Historic District, 18Dec2007}

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