How It Begins: Renaming a Neighborhood


I don’t get it. Why do newcomers feel a need to come up with new names for their neighborhoods? Is this one of those customs of the middle-class species? Or is it just someone trying to make a buck?

Check out this paper I recently picked up over in the Fairfax District and their attempts to rename the area as SOHO aka South Hollywood. First, that name is pretty fucking stupid: it continues this needless fascination with New York for cultural guidance. (WWMAD?) Plus it’s the tired moniker of choice for every fake ass “creative” neighborhood, and yes, that includes you NOHO.

Lucky for us, this paper actually has a long-winded “story” about how they came up with this new uninspired name for the Fairfax area. The website they link doesn’t have that info, but click ahead to see why they feel at ease taking an eraser to some of the common names for this area.

So what’s the reason the author gives for this name change?

Sure some people called it Miracle Mile, Mid City, Mid Wilshire, Fairfax Village or Beverly this or that. I mean this area has tons of history and yet all these nicknames are as old as some of the buildings still standing. No matter what anyone says, this area is more modern and different now and is surely not a ‘village’ as some would lead you to believe.

As my friends took interest in my new house and business, they tried to tell me that I am actually in West Hollywood. I realized that no West Hollywood is nice, clean and pretty much graffiti free, and even with the flair of the surrounding areas and cache of shops and restaurants, this area was different and reminded me more of the energy and nightlife of Soho in New York. And I then realized this was really the beginnings of South Hollywood, SoHo Los Angeles.

To sum it up, the area was different. He goes on to mention his Real Estate license (figures), his business of selling SoHo t-shirts, and the need for a “newspaper” that “concentrated on the ‘good news’ of our area rather than the typical doom & gloom of what is now considered ‘news’.” Sure enough, the author that “relocated to L.A. after leaving my home of San Francisco when the bubble burst” has registered a trademark for that Soho name. I guess it is about making a buck. Keep that in mind next time you start repeating some new name for an area.

We get lots of comments here at LA Eastside telling us that we should get over this whole schooling of fools on the location of the Eastside, that we should move on to more important things because these issues of place and history and names and identity are just sooo trivial. Too bad they are wrong. I don’t have any particular attachments to the area they are trying to rename soho and this is probably the last time I will think about it, but someone should care. What kind of a city are we if we let some random visitor act like nothing here matters? Will nobody speak up for the Fairfax District?

This is exactly how the term Eastside got drafted into some false “debate”, with some clueless newcomers and some locals that didn’t give it much thought. It’s been a long battle to reclaim our name, and even though we are winning, this should never have been allowed to get out so of hand.

Consider this a Public Service Warning.


The audacity: the newbies are cartographers y todo!

51 thoughts on “How It Begins: Renaming a Neighborhood

  1. These are historically significant place names. These were the neighborhoods where the movie business lived (before they moved northward).

    He’s acting like Columbus, claiming parts of LA for dickwads from NYC and SF, and giving them new, stupid names.

  2. From the looks of it, it’s all a way to sell his Trademark clothing line. Plus the guy had to grab a .net domain name. Horrible idea all around.

  3. If this dude wants to be cool, he needs to hire a graphic artist cause that cover is way too busy…But anyways, this is how these folks do it and other media people listen to them cause they’re friends and that’s why Los Angeles had been known for not having such a great “culture” cause it’s only fools like this that get exposure.

  4. Thanks for an interesting read…People also want to refer to this whole fairfax area “The Grove”. I hate driving through this area.

  5. I agree with Alienation that peeps like this have a Colombus complex.
    NOW that THEY are here they get to rename and change things to fit their ideas. Total colonist mindset.
    The tone they take is disturbing: “Sure some people called it Miracle Mile, Mid City, Mid Wilshire, Fairfax Village or Beverly this or that. I mean this area has tons of history and yet all these nicknames are as old as some of the buildings still standing. No matter what anyone says, this area is more modern and different now and is surely not a ‘village’ as some would lead you to believe.”
    They think they are so modern but in reality they are more retro than anything with their neo conquistador mentality. FTPs

  6. The area I live in is designated as South Robertson (or SoRo). I know it’s a city-designated neighborhood name and everything. I’m not sure how long it’s been around, but I refuse to call it anything but South Robertson. And actually, I don’t use that name either and just say Palms.

  7. It’s only a matter of time before some “visionary” will want to call skid row “SO WILSHIRE” or “SO DISNEY” or maybe “SO COOL”.

  8. They already call the area downtown south of 9th street near Staples Center “South Park”. I think a bunch of realtors & developers came up with that one.

  9. I was once browsing the old hand-drawn insurance maps database available online via the LA Public Library website, and was surprised that way back in the day when my house was built in 1906, the section of Silver NOTTHEEASTSIDE Lake I live in, south of Sunset and east of Silver Lake Boulevard was originally called Rowland Heights.

    In fact documents still refer to our lot as being in the “Rowland Heights Tract.”

    I’ve always been curious what happened to take the name away from its original area and move it to the current Rowland Heights way out along the Pomona freeway.

  10. it’s merely the newest spin on the “baby on board” syndrome. it seems that every two block section of the city must have some cool designation to make them more desirable or people won’t feel special and cool and pay overinflated prices to move in. and yeah, it’s fueled by the chronic inferiority complex of those who seem to think that new york is the last bastion of culture in the western friggin’ hemisphere.

    those who have lived here more the three years and have had the balls to venture “over the hill” or past la brea once in a while know that, though it looks nothing like new york’s version, this place is up to its eyeballs in culture, and most of it has nothing to do with plastic faces, fake friends lunching on rodeo and living in places with bullshit names like weho, soho, noho, or boho made up by some hipster bofo looking to cash in on others’ insecurities………

  11. These new names are basically the icing on the cake of gentrification. Or, more like, the mushrooms on the dung. What about the NoHo Arts District? I lived there for a brief time. Except, of course, they called it North Hollywood. I’ve never heard anyone refer to it as “NoHo”. Ever. And I’ve been there a great deal of time over the past decade. I think the “NoHo” residents in all those nice apartments pretty much stay inside. Zip out of their underground garages and speed right to the 134. And, you can imagine the obvious jokes people over there make about “NoHo”. Never has an area been given a more unfit description…

  12. Jimmy T.,
    You’re right on, man. Hey- I missed seeing u around here for a while!:) good to hear from u.

    ..Some of this stuff goes all the way back to New Yorkers calling us here in Cali “The Coast”.

  13. thanks, it’s nice to be missed. i’ve been a little busy, but i still check in regularly, if quietly…..

  14. How metrosexual of these pinche cartographers… they made El Norte pink (kinda fitting, no?, no offense) and the South blue (kinda stupid). No chingen cabrones!!

    I grew up in South-Central-Los-Angeles (that’s right, I said it), South–Central. Now, it is known as South Los Angeles— how original. My favorite name was “T-h-e Hood”!!

    I moved out of thee hood in the late 80’s and have noticed some interesting renames. Arlington Heights, Jefferson Park, West Adams and most recently King Estates. I’m sure there are many more out there.

    I now live in Santa Monica , the Pico Corridor area to be exact— or is it known as Virginia Park??? Sepa??.

    My first post… hello everyone!!

  15. In looking at the area on the map designated as SOHO, I can think of another name to call the area around the intersection of Beverly and Fairfax: South Central Hollywood. Catchy, no?

  16. Very catchy Bobo. But I think the southern most green rectangle is “South Central Hollywood”. The rest of the green rectangles are environmentally conscious gente! Go greenies!!

  17. Thank you Chavo. I appreciate that. Think of me as your eyes and ears on the w-e-s-t side!!!

  18. my favorite is the “historic byzantine-latino quarter.” saw the sign on the freeway and was like, “what the fuck?”

    i’m now spearheading a campaign to rename boyle heights the “historic african american-russian-japanese-italian-jewish-mexican-central american half dollar.” (copyright 2009, jimmy tumors, inc.)

    on a WHOLLY UNRELATED note, you can buy my new line of “historic african american-russian-japanese-italian-jew-mexican-central american half dollar” t-shirts, beer cozies and meat forks at

  19. I used to live in Mid-Wilshire/Fairfax district (Park LaBrea to be exact), and someone tried to convince me once that it was PRACTICALLY West Hollywood, like I would be cooler or something. Sorry, West Hollywood is actually a city with real, distinct city limits, unlike a lot of ambiguous LA neighborhoods. I actually live in WeHo NOW, right on the border, so I know what I’m talking about!

    I’ve lived in other neighborhoods without real distinctions. Wilton between Melrose and Beverly. Not quite Koreatown, not quite Hancock Park, not quite Hollywood. Though I think LA officially is calling the area Larchmont now, with Larchmont Village being a subset of that. When I lived around Melrose Hill I used to joke that it was South Central… Hollywood. As technically, I guess it’s not East Hollywood until you’re further east than at least Western, possible Normandie? Anyway, to me “South Hollywood” implies the area south of Santa Monica, but south of Hollywood proper (like, between Highland and Western), not south of the city of West Hollywood. Cause wouldn’t that be Southwest Hollywood? Not that any of it matters because this doesn’t exist and no one else refers to them this way.

  20. And what the heck is it with this ‘two-syllable four-letter contraction’ thing? NoHo, WeHo, BeHo, HiFi, NELA, SaMo, and now SoHo?

    I even saw one maroon trying to encourage people to call the Hollywood Hills “HoHi.” Which sounds like a school for hookers.

    I mean, even the NewYoricans manage to extend things a bit with TriBeCa and DUMBO.

    “NoHo” was kinda cute as a play on “SoHo” (and is, by the way, largely the invention of the CRA redevelopment project, trying to craft a new image for the rundown old downtown of Lankershim) but, really, this has gone too far.

    This is madness. We have to stop it, now, before Pacific Palisades ends up being “PaPa” and Downtown becomes “DoTo”.

  21. This is still killing me. In Mexico City, someone (from San Francisco, of course) seriously tried to drop “NoDo” for North of Donceles, as in, the “bad part” of the Centro.

    I ended communication.

  22. MapNerd, I think they’ve given up on “NoHo”. Like Wheel of Fortune, “No Ho” has slowly become N o _ r t h H o l l _ w o o d, again.

  23. LAMapNerd,

    The use of SAMO has been in existence for quite a long time, for sure the last thirty years. My fam has always used it just like they say the Pico Neighborhood or La Coyotera to refer to specific areas in Sana Monica. We can’t lump all of these weird shortening of city to trendy incoming yuppies or spatial reconfingurists.

  24. only recently started hearing “SaMo” for Santa Monica, and i’d heard “WeHo” for West Hollywood a few years ago. at the very least these are based on the actual place names.

    but these SoHo MoFos are actually trying to give a new different name to an already existing area. wtf?

    these contracted names do remind me of similar naming in mexico, not of neighborhoods, but for companies… anyone remember the CONASUPO (Compañía Nacional de Subsistencia Populares)? or government agencies… SEMARNAT (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales).

    just don’t start calling El Monte ElMo!

  25. El Monte as ElMo? That one made me laugh! San Gabriel has been Sangra for awhile…

    Last night I was eating at a place in what some folks are calling HelMel (Heliotrope-Melrose). That one irks me to no end and I agree with Mapnerd, this four letter thing is getting out of hand.
    I say we start adding “La” or “El” to everything to piss people off.

  26. sangra… that reminds me of other abbreviated place names such as Wilmas, Pacas, and Tijuas!

    or how about simply chopping the “el” from El Monte… or chopping off the “angeles” from Los Angeles.

    i tripped out when in san diego many years ago someone referred to where i came from as simpy “Los.” we have East Los, but simply hearing “Los” all by itself threw me way off.

  27. Yes, it’s south of WeHo, so maybe we can call it SoWeHo Township, to commemorate it’s wannabe-a-segregated-society attitude.

    That’s funny about Sangra. People really do refer to places by their “gang” names. Everyone called the Garvey Hills by the gang name, Lomas. I rarely ever heard the formal name. I mean, even the old Anglo folks, and us Asian folks, too.

    Now I hear EastLos more and East LA less.

    These alternative names didn’t eradicate the old names. They coexist.

    In contrast, for whatever reasons, other area names have been lost. Rosemead, and South San Gabriel, before they were named as such, was called Wilmar. It’s the area around Garvey Bl. and the 10 freeway, southward around a mile or so.,_California

  28. Thanks Alienation for the info regarding Wilmar, I didn’t know about this name. I’ve tried to do some research on South San Gabriel but I haven’t found much in the various books I’ve found in the library.
    Last week I saw a sad quickly scrawled “Sangra” on a door somewhere near the Mission. I was surprised to see it, it was like the last dying gasp of a gang.

  29. Amazingly pathetic. That SoHo (which is an area in Manhattan southwest of where The Factory was moved in the late 1960s; SOuth of Houston) and the lousy attempt to invoke Andy Warhol’s art is simply reprehensible, especially for such a pretentious and plastic place as West Hollywood.

    Owing to the laziness of the nabe paper named above, it is the second-stupidest new nabe name. The first place goes to DUMBO: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, which was officially pegged to the riverside portion of Greenpoint two years ago after about six years of people puking over that poorly designated, newly gentrified, former industrial area.

    As for the paper, the cover indicates it is a typographic nightmare. All caps all over the place? The publisher should not be allowed to wield any writing utensils save Crayons.

  30. Damn hipsters think they are so cool, just don’t have time to say Santa Monica High, they gotta say “SAMO”, it’s just so stupid how they think they are cool!! (Last 30 years? I don’t think so!!)
    In the corporate world look how Washington Mutual fell victim to this same mentality, “WAMU”! That stupid shit is spreading like fire!!

  31. I remember hearing the terms “SoDo” and “DoSo” used for the southern part of downtown along Central a few years ago, but I think people pretty much gave up on that.

    Also, SoHo didn’t even start in NY! They stole that shit from London.

  32. Vince, Santa Monica High’s newspaper has been called “The Samohi” for about 95 years. (Hipsters in 1904? I don’t think so!!).

    And wtf: “SoHo” takes up half the dang map! No, it’s not a village. So he wants to build a fucking empire? Columbus syndrome is right

  33. Damn, that means I live in LiHe? There was some nearby loft development that was using “The Heights” on their oh-so-hip marketing literature. Ugh.

  34. There’s actually a Wilmar renaissance going on, due to the internet.

    A lot of websites seem to get their data from some central location. It’s probably the US Census or maybe political or County databases, because they have all the census tracts mapped out, with latitude and longitude, and each tract is cross referenced with place names. (Even as early as the late 1980s, computer experimenters were using census data to build online maps.) This data is free or cheap.

    It seems like the existence of Wilmar wasn’t expunged from the data sets. So, with this expired data, Wilmar has revived, and has been treated like a real city by computer programs that create mega-web-sites.

    Welcome to Wilmar, the undead cyborgian city.

    SANGRA is dying?

  35. Truth- Not “hipsters”, they weren’t hip, in 1904, my bad, just idiots, who like to make up stupid names, even in those days they “THOUGHT” they were so cool!! My bad, I thought that stupidity didn’t go so far back, but obviously it does!!!!

  36. I went to Little Ethiopia (how long has that name been around?) the other night for dinner and noticed “SoFax” banners all along that stretch of Fairfax.

  37. haha, that ish wouldn’t last a day on this side. south gate, watts, will always remain: south gate, watts. City’s on this side can never be broke down and turned in to Manhattan, oh I mean Greenwich village, or eastlos whatever. 100% no Gentrification, can you imagine the Jordan downs rebuilt haha a joke, i tell ya.

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