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. Anna says:

    Tom, (comment number 9)

    Your rule may hold generally, but Brooklyn Heights is pretty darn swanky, to give an alternative example.

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  2. Diana Lynn says:

    FYI: The South Central area is unincorporated. Recent reports indicate that residents are attempting to incorporate it as their own city — South Central. Apparently, the residents aren’t reading the Freakonomics blog.

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  3. Luis Baldomero says:

    In Mexico, at the state of Tamaulipas, south of Texas, there is a town called “Ciudad Valle Hermoso” (Beautiful Valley City) …. but most of the people of other towns call it different … they use the name ” Ciudad de las Tres Mentiras” ( Three Lies City) ….because … it is not a valley … it is not beautiful….and it is not a City ….

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  4. Darksider says:

    My home city is thinking about changing their name. From Halifax Regional Municipality, otherwise known as HRM, to just Halifax. Everybody is in uproar, but let’s face it, when I say I’m from Dartmouth, in any place outside the Maritimes, people think I’m in college. So I’m down with being from Dartmouth! (class of 39!!), Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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  5. Nameless in South Central says:

    My neighborhood, South Central, is what it is. It is a tight-knit community, poverty links us to each other, and crime can break us apart. We learn at a young age not to live in fear…but be cautious. I’ve seen random acts of violence but i’ve also seen random acts of kindness and love. Sometimes they are seen together. Ironic, but true. The fact remains that crime, gangs, drugs, guns, and juvenile-like-schools are the problem in our community. Poverty is the root. A name doesn’t make a neighborhood…the neighborhood makes a name.

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