As contributor Chris Lewis wrote in our feature piece this week, sides are forming in wards 7 and 8 over what to call their turf. For the longest time, “I live east of the river” has been the refrain. It’s as stable a part of the District landscape as the Big Chair and the elegant Anacostia architecture that surrounds it.
But “east of the river” isn’t settling too well with relative newcomers to the area. Some of these people want to call the region “River East,” an appellation that summons images of plush, new homes and green pastures. Champions of the new name have coalesced in an organization called (logically) River East Emerging Leaders (r.e.e.l.).
This is a gentrification battle. Old-timers don’t like the idea of rebranding the area. The story quotes 35-year Anacostia resident Bessie Brown as saying, “I hate it.”
Though I am not a resident of the territory in question, I vote for “River East.” Not on ideological grounds, but rather for the sake of simplicity. It’s two syllables shorter. It’s simpler. Change can be good for a name.