I believe that Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries’s proposal is extreme. Renaming neighborhoods is smart, strategic, and allows for expansion.
Giving areas new neighborhood names is a symbol of embrace. For instance, when the boundary of Bedford-Stuyvesant was pushed to Nostrand Avenue, the result was a merger of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy into the area now affectionately known as Clinton-Stuy, or, conversely, Bedford Hill, a moniker that new businesses in the area even use (just look at the Bedford Hill coffee shop on Franklin Avenue).
Renaming and nicknames are a sign of the times. I know many can recall when “uptown” meant the Bronx. Today, when we hear “uptown,” we automatically think Harlem. What about Tribeca? It’s a growing area that grew from its nickname, in which large and in-charge executives like Jay-Z own investment properties. It’s also the host — and name — of a major film festival.
In Brooklyn, even familiar names are nicknames for other neighborhoods. Prospect Lefferts Gardens was borrowed from a group of buildings in the Prospect Heights neighborhood, What about Ocean Hill and Kensington? They’re really Flatbush. And what about Stuyvesant Heights? Most of the owners of the million-dollar real estate in this historical area grew up there won’t argue that it’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. Instead, they beam with pride when they give tours of their homes each spring, along with a history lesson if you sit awhile.
Brooklyn as a whole has also become such prime real estate — there are so many people moving farther and farther into Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Bushwick — that it can no longer defined by just prime neighborhoods. And nicknaming allows the newcomers to relate just how close each neighborhood borders and complements one another. The real estate industry does not use nicknames to push away the old; its prime objective is to relate to a new division of neighborhoods that do not merely border, but cohesively coexist.
It’s time to let Brooklyn grow, flourish and make new memories while still cherishing its vast history. Let’s embrace a few nicknames or name changes, and let Brooklyn explode, as a rose by any other name is still a rose.
Lanishia Goodwin is a real-estate broker and franchise owner of the Rapid Realty in Bedford-Stuyvesant — though she prefers the name Bedford-Hill.