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How Atlanta's Neighborhoods Got Their Names

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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.

Blandtown

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.

Bolton

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.

Buckhead

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.

Cabbagetown

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.

Chattahoochee

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

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.

Kirkwood

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.

Mechanicsville

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.

Oakland

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.

Peoplestown

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.

Pittsburgh

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

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

Reynoldstown

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.

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How Baltimore's Neighborhoods Got Their Names
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Baltimore gets a bad rap. Yes, like most major cities, it has its problems with crime, but it’s also got a dazzling waterfront, a thriving arts and music scene, almost three centuries of history, and literally hundreds of different neighborhoods. Some of the earliest National Register Historic Districts are found in Baltimore, and close to a third of the city’s buildings are designated as historic in the register—at 65,000, they’ve got more than any other American city. With so much history to go around in Charm City, there are, naturally, some interesting stories behind the names of these districts. Here are a few.

1. PIGTOWN

The area of Baltimore now called Pigtown was originally part of a 2368-acre plantation called Mount Clare. Interestingly, one of Maryland’s first iron foundries was built in this area in the mid-18th century. It housed the largest furnace used for pig iron (a crude iron product used to produce steel or wrought iron) in the colonies before the American Revolution, but that’s just a coincidence. The area is actually called Pigtown because pigs were offloaded here and herded to nearby slaughterhouses, so pigs roaming the streets were a common sight. That said, in the late 1970s and early ’80s, there was an effort to restyle the neighborhood as Washington Village, but it wasn’t really successful; today, the name Pigtown is a source of pride.

2. OAKENSHAWE

This tony residential area, known for its charming Georgian revival architecture and its status on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally planned as a “streetcar suburb” when it was built between 1916 and 1925, and was touted for its ease of access to downtown Baltimore via the St. Paul Streetcar. The area is named after shipping magnate James Wilson’s home, the 350-acre Okenshawe Estate, built in the early 19th century. Even after the estate was torn down, the area where it stood was generally known as “Oakenshaw” until about 1910, when cartographers started adding an extra e on city maps. The spelling discrepancy is preserved today in the name of Oakenshaw Place, a street within the neighborhood, whose spelling lie somewhere in the middle of the community and the historical estate—with two as but still missing the final e.

3. OLD GOUCHER

After many years of stagnation, Old Goucher is currently known for its spate of new development, with many Victorian-era buildings restored and several parks and green spaces reclaimed in the last several years. But it was originally known for Goucher College, which was established in this neighborhood in 1885, before moving to suburban Towson, Maryland, in the 1950s. The neighborhood still bears the school’s name—perhaps with the word “Old” attached to denote the fact that Goucher isn’t here anymore. Goucher College itself was named after co-founder John Goucher, a Methodist pastor, and his wife Mary, who sought to create a Methodist-sponsored college for female students; the name was changed in 1910 from Women’s College of Baltimore City.

4. THE MIDDLE EAST

In the late ’70s, the residents of this decaying section of East Baltimore were seeking federal grant funds to repair its deteriorating buildings, and a group was created to oversee the $800,000 they received. The neighborhood didn’t really have a name, however, and so they weren’t sure what to name the organization either. Fortunately, Lucille Gorham, the group’s director, came up with a solution at the 1978 grant hearing: “We have the Northeast Community Organization on one side and the Southeast on the other. So, tell them you're from the Middle East Community Organization, because you're right in the middle of everything.” Times have changed, however, and because real estate companies find it’s difficult to sell houses in an area named after a geographical region strongly associated with military conflict, there’s been a push to rebrand the region as “Eager Park,” after a public space that opened in May 2017. (It’s not really catching on so far.) Also, because a good portion of the HBO series The Wire was filmed here, it’s also sometimes referred to as “Wire Park.”

5. WAVERLY (AND BETTER WAVERLY)

Both the neighborhood of Waverly and adjacent Better Waverly (better meaning larger , i.e., “greater Waverly”) are christened after Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Waverley [sic]. Waverly began in the 1840s as an independent village of wealthy merchants that was called Huntingdon, but when it became clear that there were other local Huntingdons, literature fans in the town opted to change the name in order to get themselves a post office. Despite the book being set in the Jacobite, not Victorian, era, the borders of Better Waverly are roughly the same as the original Victorian-era village from the mid-1800s. Although brick row houses—which are frequently seen around Baltimore—were later added, a large part of Waverly still comprises quaint wooden Victorian-era homes.

6. DICKEYVILLE

Found on the westernmost edge of Baltimore, Dickeyville was first known as Franklin, for the Franklin paper mill built there in 1808. About 20 years later, three brothers named Wethered were running a wool mill in the area, and they later built a lumber mill, school, and church. The town’s name then changed to Wetheredville, until the town was sold to Irish emigrant William J. Dickey. After William J. Dickey died, his son, William A. Dickey, became the president of the company, and the town was renamed Dickeyville—intending to honor his father, but since their names were almost identical, he basically named the town after himself, too.

7. OVERLEA

Hidden in the northeast corner of the city limits, Overlea was established in the late 1800s as Lange’s Farm, named after a farm in the area. As in many other communities, the streets were named after trees—Cedar, Hickory, Spruce, Willow, and so on—and the community borders ended up being the tree-themed streets. The area was known for its views, as it's situated above rolling meadows, and as such, the neighborhood’s name was changed to Overlea sometime around the turn of the century—with Overlea meaning “over the meadow.” The community was partially annexed by the City of Baltimore in 1919.

8. RIDGELY’S DELIGHT

Located just outside Baltimore’s downtown, adjacent to Camden Yards, this rowhouse-heavy neighborhood has been a diverse melting pot for centuries. Part of the land, originally known as Howard's Timber Neck because it was owned by Captain John Howard, was transferred to Colonel Charles “the Merchant” Ridgely upon his marriage to Howard’s daughter, Rachel. It was then combined with another of Ridgely’s properties, called Brotherly Love, then resurveyed and called Ridgely's Delight, in reference to another of its owner’s flamboyantly named properties: a plantation named Ridgely’s Whim. (He also owned two estates called Claret and White Wine.) A former thoroughfare belonging to the Susquehannock tribe and later the main highway between Washington and Philadelphia in the late 1700s and early 1800s passes through the neighborhood—it’s now known as Washington Boulevard.

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How Austin's Neighborhoods Got Their Names
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When Austin was chosen as the capital of Texas, it wasn’t called Austin at all—it was a small village called Waterloo until its name was changed to honor Stephen F. Austin, the colonist known as the “Father of Texas,” in 1839. Many of its neighborhoods also have colorful histories. Here’s how seven of them got their names.

1. ZILKER

You can thank Andrew Jackson Zilker, a bootstrapping Texas politician and philanthropist, for the name of this south central Austin neighborhood. Zilker was the ice king of Austin, making his fortune with the chilly stuff before beginning to buy up land around the area. In 1917, he sold a 350-acre tract of land to the city of Austin and gave the proceeds to the Austin public schools. Now the park—and the neighborhood that adjoins it—is named in his honor.

2. JUDGES HILL

A photograph of The Mansion at Judge's Hill
The Mansion at Judge's Hill in 2013

Now a residential neighborhood in the heart of Austin, Judges Hill has been associated with the judiciary since before the city had its current name—and before Texas was part of the United States. One early resident was Thomas Jefferson Chambers, an American speculator and attorney who bought much of his land in shady deals, then became a naturalized Mexican citizen with the intention of practicing law—the only foreigner to be granted a law license. He was later named chief justice of the newly formed Texas Supreme Court, but never presided over a case. Nevertheless, for his service he was given land in the Austin area. After the annexation of Texas, Elijah Sterling Clark Robertson—also a judge—bought property there, and other judges and attorneys followed. Voila: Judges Hill.

3. BREMOND BLOCK

Speaking of Victorian-era luxury, the Bremond Block Historic District provides a rare glimpse of what Austin looked like back in the day. The neighborhood was named after the Bremond family, merchants and bankers who constructed or modified fancy houses there beginning in the 1870s. Today, the Bremonds are known mainly for the block they created—a magnet for wealthy Austinites and family members that’s now on the National Register of Historic Places.

4. CLARKSVILLE

An arial photo of the Clarksville neighborhood in Austin, Texas and beyond
Matthew Rutledge, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Unlike the Bremond Block, Clarksville was not known for its wealth. The land was granted and sold to the former slaves of Texas's own governor, Elisha M. Pease, in 1865. Charles Clark, a freed slave, also bought some of the land that's now Clarksville from another former Confederate officer, Nathan G. Shelley, and it became one of the four freedmen’s towns in Austin. Most of the neighborhood’s small, wood-framed houses are now gone, and as Kristie Cantou of Hatch + Ulland Owen Architects writes, “most African-American residents have been driven out of the neighborhood by decades of land speculation, gentrification, construction of Mopac [the Missouri Pacific Railroad] and rising property taxes.”

5. JOLLYVILLE

You might think things are pretty jovial in Jollyville, but stop right there: The north Austin neighborhood got its name from a person, not a state of mind. Jollyville was named after John G. Jolly, a blacksmith who lived in the once-tiny town that is now a neighborhood in north Austin.

6. MOORE’S CROSSING

A photo of the Old Moore's Crossing Bridge in Austin, Texas
The Old Moore's Crossing Bridge
Dave Wilson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Like many Austin neighborhoods, this historic district owes its name to one of the area’s many creeks. The airport area got its name from a man named John B. Moore’s store that, you guessed it, was near a creek crossing. In this case the creek was Onion Creek, which also lent its name to a ritzy country club neighborhood south of downtown. Onion Creek, it’s safe to assume, got its name from onions, though it’s impossible to track the name’s origin.

7. SWEDE HILL

When it comes to obvious names, Swede or Swedish Hill may have Onion Creek beat. It was settled by Swedish people in the 1870s. At the time, there were more Swedish people in Texas than in any other Southern state, perhaps because Swedish immigrants weren't intimidated by the harsh, arid climate. Many Texas Swedes hailed from the exact same county in Sweden, and in Austin the community flocked to a place they called Svenska Kullen, or Swedish Hill. There are other reminders of Sweden in Austin, like the Govalle neighborhood, which is named after a ranch that immigrant Swen Magnus Swenson named “Ga Valla,” or “good pastures.”

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