Hakeem Jeffries has begun writing legislation that would stop real estate agencies from renaming neighborhoods or changing their boundaries, the Daily News reports. Under his plan, such name changes would require approval from the city. “It’s the Wild West in New York City right now,” the state assemblyman, whose district covers Pro Cro and some other neighborhoods, told the paper. “Brokers are allowed to essentially pull names out of thin air in order to rebrand a neighborhood and have the effect of raising rents or home prices.” Oh my God, that’s just like the Wild West! Remember when Wyatt Earp killed the Clanton brothers to ensure that Tombstone wouldn’t be renamed ToSto?
The News‘ editorial board points out that the historical precedent for renaming parts of the city stretches all the way back to the Dutch renaming the Lenape’s Mannahatta “Nieuw Amsterdam.” Bay Ridge was known as Yellow Hook until a yellow fever outbreak made distasteful associations; DUMBO used to be known as “that scary industrial wasteland past Downtown,” aka TSIWPD. “I grew up in south Brooklyn,” Councilmember Letitia James told the Prospect Heights Patch, “and it’s now Park Slope.”
But so what, right? “Neighborhood names and the coining thereof is a quintessentially New York activity that should be encouraged, not discouraged,” the founder of Curbed told the New York Times. “Telling people not to is like telling New Yorkers they can’t have hot dogs in the street.” Or, like telling them they can’t come up with eye-rolling metaphors for the Times.