Where the Neighborhood Has No Name

We’ve written before on whether a child’s first name has any effect on life outcomes, and whether street names have any effect on housing prices. What if a neighborhood changes its name?

Ask the residents of South Central Los Angeles. Actually, you can’t, because technically the neighborhood no longer exists. The name “South Central” was wiped from official maps of the city five years ago to improve the reputation of an area that had become synonymous with violence and crushing poverty after the 1992 L.A. riots.

But erasing the neighborhood’s name may have had some unintended consequences, the Los Angeles Times reports. Investment seems slow to come to this neighborhood with no name, and residents of this nowhere place say they’ve lost the sense of community they used to have.

In the case of a neighborhood, could it be that having a bad name is better than no name at all?

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  1. Tomas says:

    I’ve heard as a rule of thumb (and unless you specifically know better), anyplace with the word “Heights” in the name is a bad place to live.

    By the way, my opinion is that even if “South Central” isn’t “South Central” anymore, everyone knows it’s still “South” Central”…

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  2. Chris says:

    Where the streets have no name….

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  3. Elena says:

    Another example: The Lower East Side being re-named the “East Village.”

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  4. Rufus T. Harlemberry says:

    So the next race riot will be held in “The neighborhood formerly known as South-Central.” Problem solved.

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  5. Jake says:

    Here in Pittsburgh, a new shopping development called “Eastside” was built on the border between one of the nicer neighborhoods, Shadyside, and one of the worst examples of urban renewal, East Liberty. Developers and the city love to throw the name around; most everyone else recognizes it as the blatant diversionary tactic that it is.

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  6. RZ says:

    Neighborhoods need to have names. I’ve lived in Los Angeles (though not in “the neighborhood formerly known as South Central”) for years and still have trouble figuring out where things are because so many areas don’t seem to have names. L.A. is simply too large to have neighborhoods without names. One Los Angeles address could be 20 miles from another area listed as Los Angeles!

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  7. JD says:

    In Pittsburgh, the area across the river that now has Heinz Field and PNC Park used to be known as the North Side. When they started redeveloping with the stadiums and other attractions, the City changed the name of the neighborhood to the “North Shore”.

    The “North Shore” of today is a vast improvement from the “North Side” of 10 years ago, so changing the name of a neighborhood is probably a better idea than leaving it without a name entirely.

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  8. SM says:

    When a law firm moved to East Palo Alto some yrs back, they just shortened their address to Palo Alto which is trendy and richer. Of course people were angry.

    Also in San Jose, the Viet-Americans fought furiously over the name to be given to the Viet business district, whether it should be Little Saigon or something else. They wasted so much of the city council’s time and almost recalled the first office holder of Viet origin.

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