New names help Brooklyn grow

for The Brooklyn Paper
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I believe that Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries’s proposal is extreme. Renaming neighborhoods is smart, strategic, and allows for expansion.

Giving areas new neighborhood names is a symbol of embrace. For instance, when the boundary of Bedford-Stuyvesant was pushed to Nostrand Avenue, the result was a merger of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy into the area now affectionately known as Clinton-Stuy, or, conversely, Bedford Hill, a moniker that new businesses in the area even use (just look at the Bedford Hill coffee shop on Franklin Avenue).

Renaming and nicknames are a sign of the times. I know many can recall when “uptown” meant the Bronx. Today, when we hear “uptown,” we automatically think Harlem. What about Tribeca? It’s a growing area that grew from its nickname, in which large and in-charge executives like Jay-Z own investment properties. It’s also the host — and name — of a major film festival.

In Brooklyn, even familiar names are nicknames for other neighborhoods. Prospect Lefferts Gardens was borrowed from a group of buildings in the Prospect Heights neighborhood, What about Ocean Hill and Kensington? They’re really Flatbush. And what about Stuyvesant Heights? Most of the owners of the million-dollar real estate in this historical area grew up there won’t argue that it’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. Instead, they beam with pride when they give tours of their homes each spring, along with a history lesson if you sit awhile.

Brooklyn as a whole has also become such prime real estate — there are so many people moving farther and farther into Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Bushwick — that it can no longer defined by just prime neighborhoods. And nicknaming allows the newcomers to relate just how close each neighborhood borders and complements one another. The real estate industry does not use nicknames to push away the old; its prime objective is to relate to a new division of neighborhoods that do not merely border, but cohesively coexist.

It’s time to let Brooklyn grow, flourish and make new memories while still cherishing its vast history. Let’s embrace a few nicknames or name changes, and let Brooklyn explode, as a rose by any other name is still a rose.

Lanishia Goodwin is a real-estate broker and franchise owner of the Rapid Realty in Bedford-Stuyvesant — though she prefers the name Bedford-Hill.

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

bx2bklyn from Crown Heights says:
How does someone write this totally illogical and completely self-serving piece on changing names of Brooklyn Neighborhoods? What you're doing is basically false advertising and trying to be slick. If Brooklyn- or anyplace- depending on changing neighborhood names in order to grow, then what exactly has it been doing up until now.

Yes, names have changed over time, but most names now have been in place for many years. Neighborhoods aer not changing or being rebuilt at the pace or in the same ways as in the past when you went from farmland to rowhouses in a matter of months.

Honestly, all this is, is realtor doublespeak. And not very well done either, Ms. Goodwin.
May 13, 2011, 8:16 am
Bob Marvin from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
"Prospect Lefferts Gardens was borrowed from a group of buildings in the Prospect Heights neighborhood"

That's nonsense; the Prospect Lefferts Gardens name was made up c. 1968 to stand for PROSPECT Park, LEFFERTS Manor, and the Brooklyn Botanic GARDENS.
May 13, 2011, 8:57 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
There's nothing more obvious than the point Ms. Goodwin makes. It's a shame our elected representatives trouble us with their nonsense.
May 13, 2011, 9:34 am
J.b. from Fort Greene says:
Didn't we as a society at least try to teach people when they should be ashamed of their behavior?
May 13, 2011, 9:43 am
MB from Fort Greene says:
Of course, a realtor, who else would write such drivel. And in real estate speak, "prime neighborhoods" means profits not community.
May 13, 2011, 10:14 am
Melissa Danielle from Bedford-Stuyvesant says:
Ms. Goodwin, you need a history lesson.

It is obvious that you know nothing about city planning, redlining, and how the neighborhoods you mentioned came to be known as such.
May 13, 2011, 10:43 am
JudahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
How foolish & plain dumb? You make no sense snake oil saleswoman.

I must say I've live in Bed-Stuy all my life. Never heard the name Bedford Hill or Clinton-Stuy before loosing time reading & commenting on your article. As I've always joked w/ a real estate friend, as you are busy carving up the hood. Remember to save something for the little people.

It's not a complete shock that realty people are behind this mindless madness. Everything is a marketing angles.
A few yrs ago while walking on Franklin Ave by Madison St, I was stopped by a man who was been shown a property by an agent. He asked what's this area's called, I told him Bed-Stuy. Didn't think much of it then, but the agent did looked pissed.

The future generations of Italians whose families in the 30-50's lived in Bed-Stuy won't be looking back searching for Bedford Hill or Clinton-Stuy.

How does anyone in sales say these names and find then marketable? I say something more is at play and it's your folly. What a joke!

You have force me to want protect neighborhood names like land-marking buildings.

Relax! Gentification isn't slowing down?

Fool! You apparently know nothing about where you are selling.
May 13, 2011, 11:39 am
Rachel from Prospect Heights says:
OK, brokers shouldn't be randomly coming up with new names for neighborhoods whenever it suits them (especially since it kind of seems like they suck at it - "ProCro?" Is that a real thing?), but I think Ms. Goodwin makes a really good point. Neighborhood name changes happen, and while there may be some fuss over it at the beginning, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

The character of an area changes over time. It's a natural process. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying, "this part of a neighborhood feels totally different from this other part. Maybe we should call it something new."
May 13, 2011, 2:24 pm
Jeff M from Midwood says:
For the record, when I hear "uptown" I don't think of Harlem. Uptown for me is anything above 42nd St. But that's me.

But when I think of "downtown" I think of the West Village, East Village, Greenwich Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Tribeca, Union Square, Chinatown, Little Italy, Alphabet City, and the Financial District. You know what I don't think of? The Five Points. Probably because they don't call it that anymore.

Okay, if I just watched Gangs of New York, maybe I think of the Five Points. But they still don't call it that anymore, and I don't think anyone's dying because of it.
May 13, 2011, 2:47 pm
Ben Platt from Windsor Terrace says:
I am a real estate agent myself, so I'm sure it will come as a shock to no one that I agree with Ms. Goodwin. As Brooklyn changes and evolves, it's only natural that the names and definitions of its neighborhoods should change, as well.

Personally, I've never attempted to create a new name for a neighborhood, and I don't know any agent or broker who has, but when a new name for an area begins to circulate and catch on, I've always been quick to adopt it. (You can tell if it's catching on when, precisely as Ms. Goodwin mentioned, local businesses start using it as their namesake.)

It's one thing when agents deliberately mislead their clients about the location of a property, e.g.: claiming that a property in Bed-Stuy is located in Fort Greene. That's wrong by any standard. But it's another thing entirely when agents make use of a new name to refer to a specific area in order to shake off the stigma of old perceptions that may no longer apply.

Brooklyn is undergoing a renaissance, there's no question about that. Neighborhoods in Brooklyn that were considered undesirable just five or ten years ago are now attracting both residents and businesses in a way that used to be unheard of outside Manhattan. But while the sweeping changes are perfectly apparent to those of us who live here and see them with our own eyes, it can be incredibly difficult to get outsiders to believe us when we sing Brooklyn's praises.

Case in point: When my brother attended Pratt, he wouldn't have dared to walk down Dekalb Avenue alone after dark. Barely a decade later, that same stretch is now one of the most picturesque and sought-after addresses in the entire city, home to some of the best food in Brooklyn, as well as a number of great, locally owned shops. Having moved out to California after he graduated, he didn't see those changes take place, and he wouldn't believe me when I told him. He came to visit a few months back, and I brought him out to see for himself. He was blown away. Other than the names of the streets, he could barely recognize a thing. Not only were the stores different and the buildings better maintained, but even the way people carried themselves had changed. People made eye contact and smiled at one another, they relaxed in Ft. Greene Park, they actually wanted to be out enjoying their neighborhood -- all things that he couldn't remember ever seeing 10 years earlier.

The point is, in the real estate business, a huge number of your clients are people who are moving to NYC from elsewhere, or even people who have lived in the city for years but only know a small portion of it. For clients like these, their perception of Brooklyn may be firmly based on third-hand stories, exaggerated anecdotes, and pop culture portrayals that are no longer even remotely accurate. Those perceptions can be incredibly difficult to shake. After all, I couldn't even convince my own brother that things had changed until I showed him in person, and he didn't even have anything riding on it. How much harder, then, must it be to convince a total stranger who actually has a stake in the matter? Especially since I'm a real estate agent, so people automatically assume that I'm not to be trusted?

New names and designations for neighborhoods may seem frivolous or shady to the people who have already been living there for years, but they allow agents like me to cut through the outdated stigmas and gritty media portrayals and get clients to at least take a serious look at some wonderful neighborhoods that may be exactly what they wanted all along. When you have a client who's moving to Brooklyn from out of state and they come in with the notion that the only neighborhoods in the entire borough that are worthy of their consideration are the ones that start with "Park" and end with "Slope," a new name may be just the thing to break through their bias and apprehension and introduce them to an incredible area that they never would have looked at otherwise.

Let's not pretend that this is a practice that is solely confined to real estate, either. There's a reason chefs serve "sweetbreads" and "Rocky Mountain oysters." It's because if they called them by their original names, no one would ever take a bite.
May 13, 2011, 4:40 pm
JudahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
Ben Platt. you make goods point, thou I disagree. For those same people who couldn't make eye contact yrs ago fleed. Why do we extend courtesy to them. What about those who stuck it out, and prevent a blighted neighborhoods from becoming something like Detroit?
Look at Williamsburg, an area that was no safer than Bed-Stuy some yrs ago transformed without a name change. The artist who stuck it out, made something of the place, who are now being priced out never thought of changing WILLIE B's name. The entire vibe of the people, an area are completely different from what it was 5yrs (pompous, Bravo reality tv types) I think aleast they've recognize the classic Willi'e B's name.

Bed-Stuy is classic, it means some thing to people like myself who have witness.

Name changer to me are interlopers, invaders who come in sack the city kill the men,and enslaven the women & children.

Next, I challenger any new visitor to this city to go ask a Police Officer for direction to Bedford Hills or Clinton-Stuy, in Brooklyn.
May 14, 2011, 10:38 am
corwood from bushwick says:
Think your missing a few words here... Jesus, is this really the editorial standard for this paper? Pathetic.

"that it can no longer defined by just prime neighborhoods. And nicknaming allows the newcomers to relate just how close each neighborhood borders and complements one another"
May 15, 2011, 2:09 pm
Juliette from Bedstuy says:
What are you doing with your life that you only have negative things to say? I'll wait.
May 15, 2011, 3:24 pm

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