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Today’s New York Times has a story about NoMa, D.C.’s next “hot address”…at some point down the line. “In eight or 10 years,” states one source, “it’s clearly going to be a thriving urban environment.”

The piece is a nice little roundup of what’s already established and what’s to come in the area. So, in case you’re wondering where actual life exists in that abyss of cranes, construction materials, and exhaust from New York Avenue, here’s a nice list compiled from the article:

  • In 2001, the area became home to XM Satellite Radio.
  • The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms moved in, with 1,500 employees, in September 2007.

And on the way…

  • Major offices of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and National Public Radio…The Justice Department said it had agreed to a 15-year lease, starting in 2010, for 521,000 square feet to house 2,000 criminal division employees in a proposed 12-story office building.
  • Constitution Square, a project that will include a Harris Teeter supermarket (see what I mean, there’s always one around the corner!), a 440-unit rental apartment building and a 204-room Hilton Garden Hotel.

My problem with the area has always been/will continue to be its name. NoMa…NoBlah if you ask me!!!

Anyway. What the New York Times failed to do in its piece was dig up the original name for this section of D.C.: Swampoodle! Every city in the nation is desperate to mimic this New York-ism of naming neighborhoods according to street directions. Most recently, Esquire dug up a guy, who, at least, was having a bit of fun with the trend.

“When I get to Austin, I begin asking people who a good person to speak with might be. It seems like no matter who I ask, I get the same answer: John Kelso. He’s a columnist at the Austin American-Statesman and some kind of hometown hero.

I track Kelso down the next day near his office and he agrees to have some coffee with me. When we get into his car, I notice several Hawaiian shirts from the cleaners in the backseat.

On the way over to a nearby coffee shop I ask about the neighborhood. He tells me that South Congress Avenue (where we’re driving) used to be a real blue-collar area but that they started redeveloping it in the mid-eighties, and now it’s got so many trendy and expensive stores that the people decided to rename it SoCo. “So I put in my column that since they’re running off all the prostitutes on the streets for the remodels, instead of calling it SoCo they should call it NoMoHo.” We both laugh at that, and he tells me that for some reason the name never took off.”

Photo by JamesCalder