How Atlanta's Neighborhoods Got Their Names


You may know that Atlanta was once called Marthasville, but do you know how it got neighborhoods like Buckhead and Just Us? Here’s how just a few of Atlanta’s neighborhoods got their names.

Adair Park

Land speculator George Washington Adair helped make this area of Atlanta viable by bringing trolley service to the area in 1870. Adair died in 1889, and the park that bears his name opened in 1892.

Ansley Park

Another neighborhood named after its founder, Ansley Park takes its name from Edwin P. Ansley, who in 1904 teamed up with several partners to buy an unused plot of land from George Washington Collier to develop a verdant high-end commuter suburb.

Bakers Ferry

Ferry operator Absalom Baker began service across the Chattahoochee River thanks to an 1847 act of the state legislature, and the area around his landing now bears his name.

Benteen Park

The area was originally called Benteen in a nod to U.S Army Brigadier General Frederick Benteen, who was responsible for saving seven out of the 12 companies in Custer’s regiment during the battle now known as “Custer’s Last Stand.” Only later was “Park” added to the name.


Felix Bland, a freed slave, received the land for the neighborhood that now bears his name as part of his former owner’s will. When Bland fell behind on his tax payments, developers bought it and transformed it into a residential area. The neighborhood turned into a heavy industrial area after Atlanta annexed Blandtown in 1952 and rezoned it in 1956.


Formerly an independent town, Bolton had a variety of names, including Fulton, Boltonville, and Iceville after the Atlanta Brewery & Ice Co. The town eventually settled on Bolton to honor Charles Bolton, who was appointed state Railroad Commissioner in 1837. Atlanta annexed Bolton in 1952.

Brookwood and Brookwood Hills

Joseph and Emma Mimms Thompson named their estate “Brookwood” after they settled on the land in the late 1880s. The surrounding neighborhood then adopted the name. Later, Brookwood Hills, which is located on the opposite side of Peachtree Road from the estate, was founded in 1922.


When founded in 1837, the neighborhood was called Irbyville after Henry Irby’s general store and tavern. But after Irby shot a buck and hung its head on the wall for all to see, the community began calling the area Buckhead. In the late 19th century, locals campaigned to rename the area “Northside Park,” but the name Buckhead remains.


An ode to odor, Cabbagetown received its name from the long-lasting aroma that resulted after the entire neighborhood around the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill cooked free (and possibly spoiled) cabbages on the same night. It’s said that either a truck carrying them flipped over and spilled loads of cabbages onto the street for anyone’s taking or that the truck driver gave the bad cabbages away.

Candler Park

Asa Griggs Candler, the partial and later sole owner of Coca-Cola, donated the land for what became Candler Park, which opened in 1926.

Castleberry Hill

The area takes its name from Daniel Castleberry, who operated a local grocery during the Civil War.

Chastain Park

Chastain Park is named after Troy Green Chastain, a Fulton County Commissioner from 1938-1942. The neighborhood was originally called North Fulton Park, but was renamed following Chastain’s death in 1945.


The neighborhood is named after the Chattahoochee River, which runs through it. The river’s name means “rocks-marked” in Muskogean.

Collier Hills

Collier Hills is named for Andrew Jackson Collier, who owned the land as his estate before the Civil War.

Druid Hills

JR P, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Real estate developer Joel Hurt picked the name from a list of 39 possibilities designer John C. Olmsted compiled in 1902.

English Avenue

English Avenue is named for the English family, who purchased the land in the late 19th century.

Five Points

Located in the center of Downtown Atlanta, Five Points is named for the intersection of Marietta Street, Edgewood Avenue, Decatur Street, Peachtree St. SW, and Peachtree St. NE.

Fort McPherson

General James McPherson served in the Union army until his death in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. When the army acquired land just south of Atlanta in 1885, it honored McPherson by naming the base after him.

Garden Hills

Phillip C. McDuffie’s real estate firm, the Garden Hills Company, founded the neighborhood in 1925. The developer named the new residential area Garden Hills.

Grant Park

In 1883, railroad engineer and entrepreneur Lemuel P. Grant donated 100 acres of land to establish the first city-owned public park. The park is named in his honor.

Knight Park/Howell Station

The neighborhood Howell Station is named after Evan P. Howell, a Confederate infantry captain who went on to serve as mayor of Atlanta from 1903 to 1904. Knight Park bears the name of William T. Knight, a neighborhood resident and alderman who donated the land for a community park in 1940.

Inman Park

Joel Hurt, the real-estate developer and civil engineer who named Druid Hills, organized the development of more than 130 acres of land. He named it Inman Park in honor of his friend and associate Samuel Inman, an alderman, developer, and civic leader in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Joyland is named for the now shuttered Joyland Park, an amusement park built specifically for Atlanta’s African American residents.

Just Us

In the 1950s, the Fountain Drive-Morris Brown Drive Community Club was renamed Just Us, a reference to the area’s relatively tiny population (as in, “it’s just us folks living here”). The neighborhood has a total of two streets, so it hardly needed its long original name.


A neighborhood in Dekalb County, Kirkwood is probably named for the Kirkpatrick and Dunwoody families, who lived in the area before the Civil War.

Lake Claire

You won’t find any aquatic animals swimming around in this neighborhood. Lake Claire is named for the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Claire Drive.

Loring Heights

Loring Heights is named for William Wing Loring, a brigadier general in the Confederate Army.

Margaret Mitchell

Although the neighborhood bears the name of the author of Gone with the Wind, she never lived there. Originally named Cherokee Forest, the neighborhood adopted the name Margaret Mitchell as a nod to the Margaret Mitchell Elementary School, which was located in the area on Margaret Mitchell Drive.


Established in the late 19th century, Mechanicsville is named in honor of the mechanics that worked to build and maintain the local railway lines.

Mozley Park

The neighborhood is named in honor of Dr. Hiram Mozley, its original landowner. Mozley died in 1902, paving the way for the development of the area.


The City of Atlanta originally built the Atlanta or City Cemetery in 1850, but the name was changed to Oakland in 1872 due to its many oak trees.

Old Fourth Ward

Up until 1954, Atlanta was divided into wards. When the state legislature combined and rezoned wards in 1937 to decrease the total number from 13 to six, the “old fourth ward” became part of the new fifth ward.

Ormewood Park

The neighborhood is named Ormewood Park after Aquilla J. Orme, an official of the Atlanta Electric Light and Trolley Company. Orme’s extension of a trolley line into the area made the neighborhood possible.

Paces/West Paces Ferry

Paces Ferry is named after Hardy Pace, who operated a flat-boat ferry service across the Chattahoochee River during the 19th century.


Although it may sound like a name that honors all the people who live in the neighborhood, Peoplestown is named after the Peoples family who occupied the area in the late 19th century.


Thanks to the heavy pollution south of the Pegran rail yards, the neighborhood is nicknamed Pittsburgh in a backhanded tribute to the industrial growth of Pittsburgh, Pa.


Poncey-Highland is named after the intersection of North Highland Ave. and Ponce de Leon Ave.


Reynoldstown is named after 19th century landowner and store operator Madison Reynolds.

Sylvan Hills

Sylvan Hills is named for the word “sylva” meaning “the trees growing in a particular region.” Perhaps this neighborhood helps explain why Atlanta is called “The City of Trees.”

Tuxedo Park

In 1911, Charles H. Black Sr.’s Tuxedo Park and Valley Road companies bought 300 acres off of West Places Ferry Road and developed the land as Tuxedo Park.

Virginia Highland

The district’s center is located at the intersection of Virginia Ave. and North Highland Ave., making the name Virginia Highland highly appropriate.

West End

After residents received a charter and land speculators began creating a new suburb in 1868, developer George Washington Adair named the area after London’s West End theater district.

Whittier Mill Village

The Whittier Mill is named for the Whittier family. After successfully running a mill in Massachusetts, the Whittiers opened a southern branch in Atlanta in 1896.

Mike Nelson, AFP/Getty Images
How 9 Honolulu Neighborhoods Got Their Names
Mike Nelson, AFP/Getty Images
Mike Nelson, AFP/Getty Images

The Aloha State’s largest city, Honolulu, is one of the most distinctive capitals in the United States, thanks to its colorful Polynesian history, World War II sites and museums, and melting-pot ethnic diversity. It’s also one of the few U.S. cities with a volcano looming over it—the iconic Diamond Head, known in Hawaiian as Lēʻahi. Honolulu is also unusual for a state capital in that most of its neighborhood names aren’t in English. Instead, almost every single district’s name comes from the Hawaiian language—one of the state’s two official languages—and they almost all have interesting backstories. (Honolulu itself means “calm harbor.”) Here are a few more.


Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images

Once a seat of governmental power for the island of Oahu (likely due in no small part to the excellent surfing conditions), Waikiki became a popular tourist destination with the explosion of surf culture in Hollywood films in the late 1950s and early ’60s. The village itself, though, dates back to at least the 13th century, when it was mostly swampland—the word Waikiki means spouting water, after the springs and rivers that abounded in the area.


Located mauka (on the mountain side) of Diamond Head, Kaimuki is more down-to-earth than its glitzy neighbor Waikiki, with a reputation for eclectic boutiques, book stores, and affordable restaurants, but it has a legendary past. The word ka-imu-ki likely translates to “the oven,” referring to the (also known as ki, or Cordyline fruticosa) plant, a member of the asparagus family. It’s said that the mythical Menehune people steamed the plants in underground ovens on the hillside in the Kaimuki area.


A community east of Waikiki, ʻĀina Haina was for centuries called Wailupe, which means “kite water,” for the kite flying that was popular in the area. It was also the last outpost of the city, where the residential blocks turned into pig and dairy farms. It was one such dairy farm, in fact, that brought about its name change—the Hind-Clarke Dairy was once a leading local dairy best known for its ice cream parlor on Kalanianaole Highway, which runs through the area. When owner Robert Hind sold the dairy in 1946, the neighborhood was named after him: ʻĀina Haina means “Hind’s Land” in Hawaiian.


Kaka'ako Street Art
jj-walsh, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kakaʻako has seen a lot of change throughout the years. The neighborhood was originally home to agricultural terraces, fishponds, and salt ponds, which were considered highly valuable. In the 1880s, immigrant camps were built in Kakaʻako, which later became quarantine zones as smallpox, bubonic plague, and Hansen’s disease (more commonly known as leprosy) hit the island. By the ’40s, there were around 5000 working class people living in the area who came from as far away as Portugal and China. Around the same time, the area was becoming increasingly industrialized, with many of those people working at the Honolulu Iron Works. Today, Kakaʻako is known as a hip commercial area with craft cocktail bars and expensive condo buildings. But the word kakaʻako harkens back to its humble roots: It has been translated to mean a place to "chop, beat or prepare thatching," a reference to the local salt marshes where Hawaiians once gathered the grass for their roofs.


Connecting downtown Honolulu and the Mānoa neighborhood, Makiki is a mix of blue-collar and well-to-do Honolulans, partially stemming from its past as a plantation district—both rich plantation owners and workers once lived there. It will probably always best be known as the childhood home of Barack Obama, however, who spent most of his youth living in his maternal grandparents’ apartment on Beretania Street. But long before the future president lived there, the valley was home to a basalt quarry, where the stone was specifically used to fashion octopus lures. This explains the name makiki—it’s the Hawaiian word for the weights in the lures.


Just inland from downtown Honolulu, the neighborhood of Mānoa consists of an entire valley, stretching roughly between the Koʻolau Mountain Range and Lunalilo Freeway. Many Hawaiian myths are set in Mānoa; it’s said to be the home of the Menehune [PDF], who controlled the valley from a fort on Rocky Hill, near where Punahou School now sits. As for the name itself, mānoa is a Hawaiian word that translates to “thick,” “depth,” or “vast,” which certainly describes the valley itself.


The neighborhood of Mōʻiliʻili lies just across the freeway from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, sandwiched between it and Waikiki. King William Lunalilo owned the land in the mid-19th century, and before that, Queen Kamamalu's summer cottages stood on the site where The Willows restaurant now stands. Mōʻiliʻili’s name comes from an old Hawaiian myth wherein three characters are teased by a moʻo, a mischievous lizard totem god, who then gets zapped by a lightning bolt and transformed into a pile of rocks, now a specific hill in the neighborhood of the old Hawaiian Church. Kamo'ili'ili means “pebble lizard” or “place of the pebble lizards,” and the name was later abbreviated to Mō’ili’ili. The neighborhood is also known as McCully-Mōʻiliʻili, after Lawrence McCully (1831-1892) of the Hawaiian Supreme Court.


The phrase “ka pā lama” translates to “the enclosure of lama wood,” and lama is the word for the Hawaiian ebony tree, which once heavily forested the area. Also called the Hawaiian persimmon for its astringent persimmon-like fruit, the lama tree is found on every Hawaiian island except Ni‘ihau and and Kaho'olawe. It was used by native Hawaiians for food, medicine, frames for fishing nets, and religious purposes, such as the construction of temples. The tree itself represented Laka, the goddess of hula dance, and the trees are used in the hula performances. While lama usually refers to the tree, the word itself literally translates as “light” in Hawaiian, and by extension enlightenment—because that’s what you attain when you learn the hula. These days, Kāpalama is often combined with the adjacent Liliha neighborhood and referred to as a conglomerate district, Liliha-Kāpalama.


View of Palolo Valley from Mu-Rang-Sa Buddhist Temple
Patricia Barden, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Like nearby Mānoa, Pālolo takes up an entire, very picturesque valley. Snuggled between Kaimuki and the mountains, the valley’s mauka (mountain side) is mostly agricultural land, home to orchid nurseries and grass farms, while the makai (ocean side) is densely residential, populated mostly by simple plantation-style cottages. Although it’s only four miles from downtown Honolulu and well within the city limits, Pālolo maintains a small-town, rural aesthetic, and as such, its name is appropriate: The word pālolo means “clay” and pertains to the type of the soil in the valley.

How 10 Edinburgh Neighborhoods Got Their Names

There’s evidence of people living in the Edinburgh area for 10,000 years, beginning with Mesolithic camps from around 8500 BCE. Since then, the area of Scotland’s modern capital has been ruled by the Romans, Celtic tribes, and, frequently, the British Empire. Yet throughout the centuries, Edinburgh has managed to maintain its own distinct personality, with a hodgepodge of diverse little neighborhoods. Here, we’ll spotlight a handful of them and tell the stories of how their names came to be.


Located in the southern part of the city, Inch Park is the area that surrounds Inch House. The name has nothing to do with the unit of measurement—it stems from the Gaelic word innis, which originally meant island, the theory being that the area was a dry, raised “island” within a damp, forested area. According to the Edinburgh City Council, in 1617 an L-shaped tower was built on the property; the building was added to many, many times over the years and changed hands multiple times. It was last sold to the city of Edinburgh in 1946, which turned it into a primary school and later a community center, although it’s no longer used for either today. The neighborhood is also known as “The King’s Inch” or usually just “The Inch.”


First known as Bonnytoun, this milling village situated on the Water of Leith river helped comprise the Barony of Broughton, as documented in King David’s confirmation charter of the Holyrood Abbey in 1143—along with the region that’s now known as Broughton. The village’s name had become Bonnington by the late 18th century. Bonnytoun may mean “bonny town,” with the Scottish word bonny meaning good or attractive. This word also evolved into the Scottish surnames Bonynton and Boynton.


Princes Street pictured from Calton Hill in the center of Edinburgh, Scotland
Oli Scarff, AFP/Getty Images

Princes Street is the main drag in Edinburgh’s New Town, where both locals and tourists go in search of name-brand shopping and swanky nightlife, and the road loans its name to the surrounding area. With almost no buildings on its south border, the area offers spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle and the medieval Old Town surrounding it; Princes Street Gardens and its fabulous floral clock are a centerpiece of the city. The street itself was first known as St. Giles Street, for the town’s patron saint, who has a spectacular cathedral named for him just a few blocks away. But King George III was turned off by the aesthetic of St. Giles, who was also the patron saint of lepers, and rechristened the thoroughfare after not just one but two of his sons, Prince George (later King George IV) and Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Hence, it’s not "Prince Street,” and neither is it Prince’s Street, but Princes Street—plural. (Fun fact: The New Zealand city of Dunedin also has a Princes Street that’s named after Edinburgh’s, as Dunedin itself is named after the city—the Gaelic version of Edinburgh is Dùn Èideann.)


Cow sculpture at Cowgate in Edinburgh

Jessica Spengler, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This one seems obvious—it’s a gate for cows, right? Almost. The gritty Cowgate district is in the medieval Old Town, where you’ll find one of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh, the subtle Magdalen Chapel from 1544, with its pre-Reformation stained glass windows. The Cowgate itself is the low street to the parallel Royal Mile, which is the high street, and it’s got a reputation for being dark and gloomy. That's nothing new: Back in the 1400s, the street was used to herd cattle and other livestock to the nearby Grassmarket, and it was an overcrowded slum by the mid-18th century. But it wasn’t a gate, and it never had one. The word gate is Scots for “way” or “road,” which it shares with several Germanic languages—possibly influenced by Scotland’s close proximity to Scandinavia and an early Viking presence in the city.


Kids pass away the time during the summer school holidays on the beach at Portobello on July 29, 2004 in Edinburgh, Scotland
Chris Furlong, Getty Images

No, it's not connected to the mushroom (at least not directly). Today it’s a cute seaside community on the Firth of Forth, east of the city, but in the 13th century Portobello was a stretch of moorland called Figgate Muir (or moor), with figgate thought to be a Saxon word for “cow’s ditch” or “cow’s road.” It became a haven for smugglers and sailors by the early 1700s, and in 1742, a Scottish seaman named George Hamilton built himself a cottage there. Hamilton had recently served during the British capture of Porto Bello, Panama, in 1739, and he borrowed the exotic-sounding name for his little house: porto meaning harbor or port, and bello meaning beautiful. Portbello Hut stood until 1851, and as a village built up around it—thanks to a deposit of clay leading to a boom in earthenware production—the name stuck.


On the southeastern slope of Edinburgh’s imposing extinct volcano known as Arthur’s Seat, the neighborhood of Duddingston is best known for lovely Duddingston Kirk (kirk being Scots for church), a prime example of Scoto-Norman architecture dating back to the 12th century. There’s a reason it was built in the Norman style: It was commissioned by Dodin, a Norman knight who received a large amount of property from King David I. He named the surrounding area in his own honor and began calling himself “Dodin de Dodinestun,” then named the church after the region. A town of the same name sprang up around the church, and the nearby loch (lake) was given the name too. The word later polymorphed into Doudinstoun, in the Scots spelling, and finally into Duddingston, in the English spelling. The town has long been a favorite hangout of Edinburgh’s artists and writers, such as novelist Sir Walter Scott, and the theme continues: The kirk's gardens are used today as a venue during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival.


Busy, urban Dalry is right in the middle of the action, between Haymarket and Gorgie in the center of Edinburgh. Its main street, Dalry Road, is packed with shops and restaurants, and is the beginning of the A70 road, but it wasn’t always so urban: The neighborhood originally lay outside of the walls of the Old Town, as a part of the agricultural estate of Dalry House. As for the word Dalry, the jury’s out on its meaning: It could be from dail rig, which is Scottish Gaelic for the "place of the fields (or dales)," or dail ruigh, meaning "king's field." Dail fhraoich, meaning "heathery field," is a possible etymology as well.


Technically an Edinburgh suburb, Kingsknowe is mostly known for its large golf course, appropriately named Kingsknowe Golf Course. The town’s name has nothing to do with any smartypants Scottish monarchs: Knowe is just another word for knoll, a small rounded hill, one that’s often grassy and is sometimes associated with faeries.


Stockbridge Market
gnomonic, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

With its twee cafés and boutiques, the very Instagrammable neighborhood of Stockbridge seems to explain itself: It does have a notable bridge, built in 1801, which is indeed called Stock Bridge. It’s a stone bridge, though, and the name Stockbridge refers not to livestock but to the Scots word stock, meaning timber. It’s not clear what happened to the wooden bridge, but you can recognize the etymology in the English word stocks, as in the wooden frame used to lock criminals’ hands and feet and display them publicly.


Dean Village is known as a tranquil oasis in the center of the city, famous for its picturesque cobblestone lanes, colorful gardens, and quaint fairy-tale architecture, and it has a history reaching back at least 800 years. It was first a mill town called Water of Leith Village, after the Water of Leith river that snakes through the area, with about a dozen working mills simultaneously in operation at one point. But in his 12th century Holyrood Abbey charter, King David I referred to the village as Dene, which ultimately became Dean Village. The name change doesn't have anything to do with a university or a guy named Dean; in Scots, a dene is a ravine or a valley. The English equivalent of this word is den, which still crops up today in place names such as in Camden or Hampden.


Right next door to Duddingston is—or shortly will be—the fresh new district of Treverlen, a developing area of Edinburgh that shares its name with the still-in-the-works Treverlen Park, which kicked off in 2016. The name of the new park was carefully chosen by the Duddingston and Craigentinny Neighbourhood Partnership after consulting the public. They picked an old name for a medieval settlement that was included in Dodin of Dodinestun’s massive land grant from King David: Treverlen or Traverlin, dating back to at least the 11th century, No one’s quite sure what this word means, but it was likely based on a Celtic Brythionic tongue, since the village of Treverlen predated the use of Gaelic or Saxon languages in greater Edinburgh. Based on this clue, there are a few theories: It could be from tref + gwr + lên, meaning “place of the learned man” or possibly tref + y + glyn, meaning “place of the learned women.” It might also be from tre + war + lyn, meaning “the farm at or on the loch,” or similarly traefor llyn, meaning “settlement by the lake (or loch) of reeds (or rushes).” Trevelen Park is set to be completed in 2019.


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