How Did Manhattan Neighborhoods Get Their Names?

  PC: Steve K.

PC: Steve K.

Ever wonder how neighborhood names like Hell’s Kitchen came to be? Here’s a quick tour of the history of NYC neighborhood names!

The Districts

 

MEATPACKING DISTRICT

Between 16th and Hudson Street, and 9th and 11th Avenue

  PC: NY Press

PC: NY Press

Now flooded with exclusive nightclubs and bustling bars, the Meatpacking District was once home to over 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking markets. These facilities popped up as early as the 1840s and by the 1930s, the district became the world’s third largest supplier of dressed meats.

Today, only 5 meatpacking companies remain and the rest of the neighborhood gave way to retail shops. boutiques, and nightlife venues.

 

GARMENT DISTRICT

Between 34th and 40th Street, and 6th and 9th Avenue

  PC: Save the Garment Center

PC: Save the Garment Center

Marked by the needle and button sculpture on 7th Avenue, the Garment District earned its name by housing half the City’s textile manufacturing plants in the 20th century. Since then, the area has significantly contributed to the global fashion industry through design, manufacturing, sales, and production.

The area today is also referred to as the “Fashion District” since it is still the operations base for many major fashion labels and designers like Calvin Klein, Donna Karen, and Liz Claiborne.

 

FLATIRON DISTRICT

Between 20th and 23rd Street, and Lexington and 6th Avenue

  PC: Flatiron Street Patrnership

PC: Flatiron Street Patrnership

This neighborhood has the Flatiron Building to thank for its name. Constructed in 1902, the building was originally named the “Fuller Building”, but because of its clothing iron shape, the name “Flatiron” inevitably stuck.

Other names for the Flatiron District include “Silicon Alley”, which refers to the recent growth of technology startups in the area.

 

The Squares

 

TIMES SQUARE

Between 40th and 53rd Street // 6th and 8th Avenue

  PC: Shorpy

PC: Shorpy

In 1904, Adolph Oschs, former owner of The New York Times, convinced the mayor to change the name of the neighborhood to from “Longarch Square” to “Times Square” when he moved its headquarters there.

Today, the headquarters building is still towering over the area on 40th street and 8th avenue.

 

HERALD SQUARE

34th Street and 6th Avenue

  PC: Shorpy

PC: Shorpy

Simple enough, this small but bustling fraction of the Garment District derived its name from the newspaper, The New York Herald, who had its headquarters in the area from 1835 to 1924.

 

WASHINGTON SQUARE

Between West 4th and MacDougal Street // Fifth Avenue and Waverly Place

  PC: Robert Otters

PC: Robert Otters

This public park and its surrounding neighborhood was named after the first president, George Washington. The notable Washington Square Arch that decorates the park’s entrance was built in 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Washington’s inauguration.

 

The Mysteries

 

TURTLE BAY

Between 42nd and 53rd Street // Lexington Avenue and the East River

  PC: Pinterest

PC: Pinterest

One explanation that historians offered for the origin of Turtle Bay is that a nearby creek connecting to the East River was home to a significant population of turtles.

However, the Turtle Bay Association claims that the name came from the Dutch word “deutal” which means “bent blade”, describing the shape of the neighborhood.

 

HELL’S KITCHEN

Between 34th and 59th Streets // 8th and 12th Avenue

  PC: Uncle Sam’s New York

PC: Uncle Sam’s New York

We saved the biggest mystery for last! Though unclear, there are several widely accepted explanations for how this once gritty and crime-prevalent neighborhood was named “Hell’s Kitchen”.

A common theory is that the area was named after the “Hell’s Kitchen Gang”, which was a local gang in the early 20th century responsible for many accounts of organized crime in the City.

Another theory points the origin to a cop who, while watching a violent riot in the neighborhood, commented, “This place is hell itself!” to which his partner replied, “Hell is a mild climate. This is hell’s kitchen.”

 

The Acronyms

 

SOHO

Between Houston and Canal Street // 6th Avenue and Crosby Street

  PC: Jocelyn C.

PC: Jocelyn C.

 SOuth of HOuston Street

 

NOHO

Between Houston and 8th Street // Broadway and Cooper Square

  PC: Ephemeral New York

PC: Ephemeral New York

NOrth of HOuston Street

 

NOMAD

Between 25th and 30th Street // 6th and Lexington Avenue

  PC: YoYouCreative

PC: YoYouCreative

NOrth Of MADison Square

 

Nolita

Between Broome and Houston // Bowery and Lafayette

  PC: Nolita Group

PC: Nolita Group

NOrth of LIttle ITAly

 

Tribeca

Between Canal and Fulton Streets // Broadway and North End Avenue

  PC: Old NYC Photos

PC: Old NYC Photos

TRIangle BElow CAnal Street

 

Did any of these surprise you? Share these fun facts with your friends!