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How 9 Salt Lake City Neighborhoods Got Their Names

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Once known for being an ultra-religious Mormon stronghold and not much else, Utah’s capital, Salt Lake City, is having a moment. As it slowly sheds its teetotaling, conservative past, SLC is becoming a destination for craft beer, arthouse movies, and coffeehouse culture. But Salt Lake City also has a rich and compelling history, and its pioneers played a major role in the westward expansion of the United States. Read on to learn more about this dichotomous—yet somehow harmonious—city by the Great Salt Lake.

1. THE MARMALADE DISTRICT

Just north of downtown, on Salt Lake City's Capitol Hill, you’ll find the Marmalade Hill Historic District, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. They’ve laid on the charm here, with Italianate, Carpenter Gothic, and Russian-influenced architecture sprinkled throughout. It’s also one of Salt Lake City’s LGBT-friendly neighborhoods, along with the avenues just to the east. The Marmalade District got its adorable name thanks to the names of its streets, some of which are named after fruits, themselves referencing the orchards once planted there by the city’s founders. (The 19th century pioneers who settled Utah were big on preserves, understandably—such as marmalade.) Fruit-themed streets in the Marmalade District that have survived to the present day Quince Street, Almond Street, and West Apricot Avenue.

2. SUGAR HOUSE

Sugar House Park. Image credit: Edgar Zuniga Jr. via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

 
Another one of the city’s oldest districts is Sugar House, established in 1853. Not long after its founding, the Deseret Manufacturing Company set up shop in an old smithy in the neighborhood, aiming to avoid the high cost of importing sugar to the Utah Territory from the Midwest by processing beets into refined sugar. The construction of the factory was plagued by delays, and when it was finally finished, the machinery didn’t actually work. The building was converted into a paper mill in 1856.

But the name Sugar House, suggested by the mayor’s wife, stuck, and subsequent building projects were also christened with it, including the now-defunct Sugar House Prison and later the Sugar House Park that replaced it. When the neighborhood’s Sprague Library was dedicated in 1928, Mayor John F. Bowman suggested at the ceremony that Sugar House be rebranded as "South East Salt Lake City." His idea was rejected.

3. AGRICULTURAL PARK

In 1902, the Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star reported that “The Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society of Utah … now proposes to hold all State fairs at the Agricultural park on the western outskirts of Salt Lake City. A $30,000 permanent building will be erected in the spring.” This fair had begun in 1856 as an “agricultural sermon” intended to “encourage the production of articles from the native elements in Utah Territory,” and was held irregularly in various offices and LDS meeting houses until the legislature bought the aforementioned agricultural park—known thereafter as the Fairpark. (Records for an early incarnation of the fair show that it awarded prizes for best boar, best pair of woolen hose, best six brooms, best map of Utah, best shoelaces, best penmanship, best fall pear, and best sweet potato, among other categories.)

Folks mostly refer to the whole area as Fairpark now, but some real estate types still use its earlier name—Agricultural Park—to talk about a select triangle of Fairpark southwest of the Jordan River and down to North Temple and Redwood Road. The city limits have expanded since 1902, of course; no longer on the city’s outskirts, the Fairpark neighborhood now sits roughly in the center of SLC. By the way, the $30,000 building mentioned in the Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star article—a mix of Beaux Arts and Mission styles known as the Horticulture Building until it was renamed Promontory Hall in 1977—still stands at the entrance of the Fairpark.

4. THE GRANARY DISTRICT

Once an industrial area, the emerging Granary District is named for its colossal grain silos, which served the area’s once-numerous flour mills in a past life. Left to decay for decades after the rail lines moved west, the neighborhood has benefited from a recent redesign campaign, and it’s become a haven for artists and entrepreneurs who’re attracted to its gritty personality. These days, the Granary District is better known for its indie breweries , hip coffee shops, and Granary Row, an annual street festival that comprises a beer garden, food trucks, and pop-up shops housed in shipping containers.

5. EMIGRATION OAKS

Although it sits just outside of Salt Lake City proper, abutting the city’s northeastern border, Emigration Oaks and the adjacent Emigration Canyon play an important part in SLC’s history. The small township takes its name from a 18-square-mile swath of woods, which itself is so named for the emigrants who passed through it and the canyon in the 1840s. These included both the Mormons and the ill-fated Donner-Reed Party that forged a route across Emigration Canyon, en route to California, a year before Brigham Young and his pioneers led their own wagon trains through the rocky terrain. (Nearby Donner Hill is named for the groups’ leader, George Donner; they climbed it afer having given up on the canyon, a decision that may have doomed the group.)

Young himself would later lead between 60,000 and 70,000 more Mormons from the Midwest to the Salt Lake Valley through this region—Mormons who, in turn, built around 400 settlements, including Salt Lake City. Today, the area is known both for its tony new mansions and its offbeat vintage architecture, such as the Pink Garage—once the supposed gangster hideout of Prohibition-era bootlegger Cleveland Bunnell Lester.

6. PEOPLE’S FREEWAY

Located just south of downtown Salt Lake City, People’s Freeway is sort of like the southern half of the Granary District—or perhaps it’s the Granary that seems to be rising out of a portion of People’s Freeway. This neighborhood is known for its affordability, its mass transit, and, unsurprisingly, its easy access to the freeway, with I-15 forming its western boundary and two major freeway entrances within its borders. It’s also got great old diners and dive bars—as well as Smith’s Ballpark, which hosts minor league and university baseball games.

7. HARVARD-YALE

Like the Marmalade District, the Harvard-Yale neighborhood is another SLC district known for both its architectural jewels and themed street names. Also called Yalecrest, the area features streets named for Ivy League universities, such as Princeton, Yale, and Harvard Avenues. The neighborhood's homes are largely from the late 1800s and early 1900s, with English Cottage and English Tudor styles featured prominently. The area was once used as farmland by Salt Lake City’s early settlers and is overwhelmingly residential today, having served as a home base for many LDS church leaders, business executives, and the well-to-do in general. The whole district has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007, although a single home within Yalecrest—a Prairie School-style bungalow formerly belonging to 8th LDS president George Albert Smith—has held its own spot on the National Register since 1993.

8. WASATCH HOLLOW

Located in southeast Salt Lake City, the community of Wasatch Hollow is named for a valley—or hollow—created by the Wasatch Mountains, which stand over the city from the east. The Wasatch Range itself is named after a Ute (a local Native American people) word meaning "mountain pass" or "low pass over high range.” Established in the 1920s, the neighborhood is mainly residential, although the “15th & 15th” business district boasts several popular restaurants. (“Wasatch Hollow” and “15th & 15th” are sometimes used interchangeably.)

9. ROSE PARK

Rose Park’s name isn’t terribly imaginative, but involves a cute story. In the 1940s, the area’s developer set out to realize his vision of a neighborhood laid out (vaguely) in the shape of a rose, with short residential streets curving around one another like petals. The main street, American Beauty Drive, was supposed to make it a long-stemmed rose. The dedication to this idea was so intense that all the houses’ roofs originally had either red or green shingles. One the most ethnically diverse areas in the state, Rose Park is in full bloom these days after a period of economic depression, and Salt Lakers appreciate its affordable real estate prices, huge community garden, and excellent Latin food. The layout has grown and changed since the ‘40s and isn’t really shaped like a rose anymore, but the idea is preserved in the names of the streets, which are different varieties of roses: Capistrano, Topaz, and Nocturne, to name a few.

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How 8 Washington, D.C. Neighborhoods Got Their Names 
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Most people know that Washington, D.C. is packed with historic buildings, but its neighborhood names reflect a more intimate history that sometimes dates back all the way to the city's origins on the banks of the Potomac. Here are the stories behind a few of the District’s neighborhood names, plus a bonus story of one distinctively named neighborhood that is no longer.

1. ANACOSTIA

Anacostia gets its musical name from an Anglicization. In 1608, Captain John Smith made his first Chesapeake Bay voyage, sailing up the bay and exploring its many inlets and rivers. One of them led him to a village of Nactochtank people—one of many tribes that inhabited the region and used its rivers and plains for food and trading. As European traders kept coming to the region, someone Anglicized anaquash(e)tan(i)k, the Nacotchtank word for village or trading center, as Anacostia. The name stuck among white settlers, and despite being briefly named Uniontown, Anacostia is known by that name to this day.

2. KALORAMA

Another one of Washington’s most sonorous place names comes from Greek. In 1807, a poet named Joel Barlow moved into a house with some seriously sweet views of the newly built White House and Capitol. He nicknamed it Kalorama—“beautiful view” in Greek.

3. PLEASANT PLAINS

Awesome views apparently abounded in old Washington. In the 1700s, a farmer named James Holmead bought a huge tract of undeveloped land in what was then Maryland. The family named part of their estate “Pleasant Plains,” and it stuck. The Holmead family loved dramatic estate names—other properties included James’s Park and the fancifully named “Widow’s Mite.” Pleasant Plains was eventually divvied up, and part of the estate was turned into a luxury suburb called Mt. Pleasant. James’s son, Anthony, also opened a burial ground that has since gone defunct.

4. FOGGY BOTTOM

A photograph of the Washington, DC Foggy Bottom Metro station
The Foggy Bottom Metro station.

Not all views in early Washington were pleasant, however. Take the area near where the Potomac and Rock Creek meet, now one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. It was settled early in the city’s history and initially known as Hamburgh, a German settlement that became part of Washington when the federal district was created. The area later became an industrial center, home to two breweries and a gas works. Foggy Bottom was never terribly inviting: The damp marsh was prone to mists and overrun by frogs. But the smoke and smog emitted by its industrial residents is thought to be responsible for its catchy nickname. Today, the neighborhood shares that handle with the U.S. Department of State, which is headquartered in the neighborhood.

5. FORT TOTTEN

The Fort Totten neighborhood shares a name with a one-time military base turned park in Queens, New York. The D.C. version was also once a real fort, built starting in 1861 to protect Abraham Lincoln’s summer home, and later became part of a park. The fort can still be seen—just one of the District’s many Civil War fortifications—and today, a tiny neighborhood is named after the fort and the park.

6. TRINIDAD

Spoiler alert: There are multiple Trinidads, too. The one not in the Caribbean is squarely in northeastern D.C. It’s named after the tropical country thanks to James Barry, a land speculator who once lived in the original Trinidad and who named his farm after the country, then sold it to another mogul, William Wilson Corcoran. Corcoran enjoyed life on Trinidad Farm until he decided to give it away, donating it in 1872 to what is now George Washington University. The college sold it to a brickworks, who sold part of it to a group of developers, who sold the land to residents of the new neighborhood of Trinidad.

7. CHEVY CHASE

A photo of sunset on Western Avenue in the Chevy Chase neighborhood, with the Maryland side on the right.
Sunset on Western Avenue in the Chevy Chase neighborhood.

The D.C. area has two Chevy Chases: A neighborhood in the city itself, and an adjoining town in suburban Maryland. Both derive their name from a land company that still exists today.

As Washington, D.C. expanded, real estate investors began to vie for unoccupied land, including farmland in the northwestern part of the city. The Chevy Chase Land Company, which was founded by future Nevada representative and senator and noted white supremacist Francis G. Newlands, began snapping up that land in the 1890s. Newlands milked both his mining fortune and his government connections to create what he saw as the ideal suburb. Today, that neighborhood is known for its large collection of Sears kit houses—bungalows that land owners bought directly from the Sears catalogue and assembled themselves.

8. CARVER LANGSTON

Carver Langston doesn’t just have two names: It’s two neighborhoods that are too small to be referred to as individual neighborhoods. The first, Carver, was named after George Washington Carver, the African American inventor and botanist. The second, Langston, was named after John Mercer Langston, who became one of the first African-Americans to hold elected office in the United States (township clerk in Brownhelm, Ohio in 1855) before going on to establish Howard University’s Law Department and becoming Virginia’s first black Representative.

BONUS: SWAMPOODLE

Alas, the Washington neighborhood with the weirdest name is no more. In the 19th century, a shantytown on the banks of the Tiber Creek earned the name “swampoodle”—an apparent reference to the area’s swampy puddles. With a reputation for being wild and crime-ridden, it was known as “the ideal place to turn a dishonest dollar.” But the neighborhood didn’t make it out of the 19th century and was eventually displaced when Union Station was built. Oddly enough, Philadelphia had its own Swampoodle—a section of North Philly whose name disappeared at some point during the 20th century (although some residents are currently trying to bring it back as "Swampoodle Heights").

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How 9 Louisville Neighborhoods Got Their Names
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Historic Louisville, Kentucky, has got to be a contender for having the most neighborhoods in any American city. Its districts can be small, sometimes comprising only a few blocks, but they number in the hundreds, and each has a distinct personality—and more often than not, an interesting tale to tell. Here are a few of their backstories.

1. LIMERICK

Named after County Limerick by the Irish immigrants who established the area, this neighborhood was a Catholic stronghold in a Protestant city. The area had its own annual St. Patrick’s Day parade for 46 years, and roads are named after Catholic saints, such as St. Catherine Street and Bertrand Street (for St. Louis Bertrand, who is also the namesake of the neighborhood’s striking Edwardian English Gothic style church). Although some “lace curtain Irish” immigrants built lavish mansions in Limerick, it’s historically been home to working-class people, and today supports a mix of Irish-American and black Louisvillians, among other demographics. It’s also known for its well-preserved 19th-century architecture.

2. CAMP TAYLOR

Camp Taylor started out not as a neighborhood but a military base. Named after the United States’ 12th president, Camp Zachary Taylor was one of the largest military training camps in the U.S. when it was constructed in 1917, housing over 47,000 recruits. It was also, at the time, the single largest building project in Louisville’s history.

After World War I ended in 1918, most of the government buildings were torn down and the area was redeveloped to become a residential neighborhood of mostly bungalows—many of which were bought by soldiers returning from war—but the old name stuck around. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald was stationed at Camp Zachary Taylor for one month in 1918 and later name-checked it in The Great Gatsby: The mysterious Jay Gatsby is said to have met Daisy while stationed there.

3. CHEROKEE GARDENS/CHEROKEE TRIANGLE

A photo of autumn leaves in Cherokee Park, Louisville, Kentucky.
Autumn in Cherokee Park.
LuAnn Snawder Photography, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Both neighborhoods are named after nearby Cherokee Park, a massive 409-acre city park designed by the father of landscape design, Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York City. Cherokee Park itself is so named thanks to a 19th-century trend of romanticizing Native American imagery—e.g., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha. Olmsted actually went on a tear and named three parks after native peoples: Cherokee, Iroquois, and Shawnee. Later, his sons and their firm would help develop more parks, some maintaining that naming tradition.

4. PLEASURE RIDGE PARK

This somewhat salaciously named neighborhood stems from a resort that was built there in the 1870s. The Paine Resort was adjacent to shady Muldraugh Ridge, a popular spot for dancing and picnicking. It was colloquially renamed “Pleasure Ridge,” and the new name later spread to the whole area. (An earlier name for the neighborhood, dating to before L. M. Paine built the resort but still owned most of the surrounding land, was pretty much diametrically opposed its present-day one: Painesville.)

5. OKOLONA

Settled by farmers in the late 1700s, Okolona would eventually get the name Lone Oak, after a huge tree that stood in its center. But when the town tried to register its post office, it learned that there was already a Lone Oak, Kentucky. So the residents roughly rearranged the letters and called it Okolona instead. (For what it’s worth, there’s also a town called Okolona in Mississippi, but its chamber of commerce claims it was named after a Chickasaw warrior and has nothing to do with oak trees.) The community of Okolona has since been incorporated into Louisville proper, which happened when all of Jefferson County merged with the city in 2003. The lone oak itself was around until the 1970s, when it was hit by lightning and subsequently chopped down.

6. KOSMOSDALE

Located in the southwestern part of Louisville, this area was christened after the Kosmos Cement Company, which began developing the area around 1905. (The company’s name itself has been claimed to have come from a type of stone used in the manufacture of cement, or the idea that the product would be sold “around the cosmos,” with a spelling change to tie it in to Kentucky.) The company built a row of 12 duplexes on Dixie Highway for its employees to live in, as well as a school, a medical clinic, and a company store, fostering a small community that still stands today. Kosmos Cement Company is now affiliated with Cemex, but the plant still operates out of Kosmosdale.

7. SCHNITZELBURG

In 1866, when developer D.H. Meriwether first planned out this area of Louisville, along with a triangle of land just to the west that bears his name today, it was originally named Meriwether's Enlargement. However, when it turned out that the neighborhood’s residents were largely German immigrants, they and other Louisvillians began calling it “Schnitzelburg,” probably referring to the popular German/Austrian dish.

8. BUTCHERTOWN

A photo of the interior of Butchertown Grocery in Louisville, Kentucky
The interior of Butchertown Grocery.
Jessica Dillree, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This one is kind of a no-brainer: Butchertown was once full of butchers and stockyards, starting in the 1820s. It was attractive to these business owners because animal remains could be handily dumped into Beargrass Creek, which wasn’t allowed next door in the downtown area for hygiene reasons. In 1937, the Ohio River flooded, and 70% of Louisville was underwater. With Butchertown sitting right on the river’s edge, the already-seedy neighborhood was sent into even sharper decline, with many homes destroyed—or just left to rot. In the 1990s, though, a major overhaul was launched, old buildings were rebuilt and refurbished, and today’s Butchertown is a trendy hotspot known for sleek restaurants, antique boutiques, and art galleries.

9. SMOKETOWN

Smoketown was where Louisville’s brickyards were; according to an 1871 directory, 9 out of the city’s 20 were located in this area. This was thanks to a giant deposit of clay in the ground (possibly evidenced by the name of South Clay Street, which runs through the neighborhood). The kilns used in brickyards produce smoke as well as bricks, and so the neighborhood’s name wrote itself. Folks also called it Frogtown, a name that originated after the brickyards were abandoned in the 1880s, once the clay had been depleted: They left behind empty clay pits that filled with water—and frogs.

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