City Paper is not for tourists
Attempts to change neighborhood names have become annoyingly common in D.C. The GaP, SoMo, SoNYA: all terrible. If some business owners have their way, a stretch of Connecticut Avenue NW may be getting its own new, unofficial name—-and hopefully one that’s significantly less awful than its brethren in rebranding.
Ask any loyal customer of Politics & Prose what neighborhood the bookstore is located in and you’ll get a variety of answers. Chevy Chase? The store’s too far south. Van Ness? It’s too far north. Forest Hills? Wakefield? Maybe, technically, but those neighborhoods don’t have great name recognition. Even P&P owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine weren’t sure what to call the stretch of Connecticut Avenue NW just south of Nebraska Avenue. A few months ago, the pair discussed planning neighborhood activities with the owners of nearby French bistro Terasol when the idea struck them: Instead of stressing about which neighborhood their businesses belong to, why not come up with a new name for the area?
Politics & Prose’s owners shared their idea with local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Manolis Priniotakis, who found the idea intriguing. When the group initially tried to come up with an existing name for the area, “we couldn’t think of any that we’d heard,” Graham says. “As we batted around this idea with a few others, it seemed to be kind of a void that maybe we could fill.” Graham and Muscatine decided to ask their customers what the neighborhood should be called, so they asked for suggestions on the store’s website. Naturally, ideas flooded in. Some reference other neighborhoods, some spell out the geographic location, and some describe the businesses on the block.
Below, a few of the most interesting suggestions.
SoChe, short for South Chevy Chase and pronounced “so-chee, ” like the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. So-so.
NeConn, short for Nebraska and Connecticut: Sounds too much like neocon. Next!
Connfess, short for Connecticut and Fessenden: Slightly demanding and a bit ominous.
Connecticut Park, Connecticut Corner, Connecticut Heights: Connecticut Avenue is a long street with a lot of parks, corners, and heights. Too confusing.
Literary Alley: Can a major artery really be called an alley?
So far, no favorites have emerged, but Graham says he was “pleasantly surprised at how many suggestions we received from our initial column about this.” If people have additional suggestions, they can send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. For what it’s worth, I think the block should be called Rock Paper City, in tribute to Politics & Prose’s broad selection of printed pages and Comet Ping Pong’s excellent indie-rock bookings.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery