COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DOWNTOWN TURNAROUND “I’ve always thought it was a little strange that the entire country has adopted a geographic reference specific to Manhattan to refer to the place in a city where the tall buildings are. Elsewhere in the Anglophone world, the terms ‘city center’ or CBD (central business district) are used, which makes a lot more sense.
In Houston we’ve gone a step further: we refer to a place 5 miles WEST of ‘downtown’ as ‘uptown,’ and the place immediately SOUTH (ok, southwest) of ‘downtown’ as ‘midtown.’” [Angostura, commenting on Comment of the Day: Downtown Is on the Edge] Illustration: Lulu
Swamplot readers Michael F. Forlenza and Karen Kane wade into the long-simmering confusion over the best way to refer to the distinctive and still-transforming Montrose-area neighborhood of townhomes, bungalows, and “an increasing number of high-end, 4,000-square foot plus, newly-constructed residences” wedged between Shepherd and Dunlavy, south of the River Oaks Shopping Center and north of Westheimer. As indicated by this Montrose neighborhood map, the area is supposed to be called Vermont Commons (Driscoll and westward) and “Park” (the eastern half).
ALSO SPLAIN ZUBINZARANZARIUS “By chance this morning, I needed to find a certain place in Houston. So I opened my trusty web browser and went to the main Google Maps page. I started zooming in . . . and at a certain level of zoom, a very funny word sort of popped out at me near Jersey Village – ‘Zubinzaranzarius.’ I zoomed in more, and it appears to be the name of a legitimate neighborhood — Zubinzaranzarius North. A quick Google search returned a bunch of websites offering to find a house, schools or spas near ‘Zubinzaranzarius North’ — but none of that confirmed the real existence of the location, since those sites probably just mine Google Maps data. Does such a funny-named locality really exist, or did a Google Maps programmer play a practical joke on Houstonians and Jersey Villagers, or did Google Maps get HACKED???” [Swamplot inbox]
Mayor Parker has requested a separate city investigation into whether council member Al Hoang forged the signatures of 16 neighbors in a bid to change the name of his street from Turtlewood Dr. to Little Saigon Dr. A petition requesting the name change was circulated among the residents of Turtlewood Square — a development of 47 nine-or-so-year-old homes located behind a Bellaire Blvd. strip center just west of Arthur Storey Park. A lawsuit filed by several residents of the development alleges that the when the petition was given to Hoang it didn’t have the signatures of the required 75 percent of residents. The lawsuit claims that by the time Hoang submitted the petition to the city, it had gained an additional 16 names — all forged. Hoang appears to have told 11 News reporter Jeremy Rogalski that he believes his nanny — who no longer works for him — was responsible for the extra names. After the allegations of forgery, Hoang submitted a direct request for the name change to the city’s planning department. The mayor has put both name change requests on hold pending resolution of the investigation.
See that map up there, showing all the stations on Metro’s planned light-rail lines? Metro is asking the public for help naming those stations. But not the stations that don’t have any names indicated next to them — the transit agency isn’t quite yet ready to get to those. No, Metro wants your help choosing names for the stations that are already marked with names. Like, the “Burnett Transit Center.” What should that station be named? Anyone? Anyone? And how about the one marked “Boundary”? Any suggestions?Spicoli?
This is, of course, the best kind of call for submissions. If you can do better than what they’ve already got, go ahead! If you can’t beat what’s there already, why bother? And you can get an idea what the fallback is gonna be, if all the suggestions suck. Just think what we might have ended up calling East Downtown if that naming “contest” had been pitched like this: Yeah, we’re threatening to name this area EaDo — unless you stop us, with something better. How well would that have worked?
You can get a sense of where the stations are planned for the new North, East End, and Southeast Lines from these maps:
I got an email from the East Downtown Management District saying that a name has been chosen for the district and the new website will debut on January 19th the website is www.eadohouston.com so I’m thinking the new name is EaDo?
The East Downtown District registered that domain name in July. Plus, EaDo would jibe with this little comment left on Swamplot last month.
So what were the runners-up? Perhaps: Edo, E.D.O., E-Do, or Eat-O? Next up: More naming competitions, for West Houston, Lower Kirby, and North Norhill!
The East Downtown Management District has hired a Houston design firm to come up with a new name for the triangular area between I-45, Highway 59, and the railroad tracks that separate it from the Greater East End to the east. Apparently, “East Downtown” isn’t good enough. So the design firm, Good Project, has set up a contest. Youget to name it!
The winning name will be chosen by the district’s board of directors and announced in a press release on the Name the District website sometime after the competition closes on May 15th. The district board expects the winning entry to become the official name of the district and be used on signage throughout the neighborhood.
Good Project was involved in naming both Sonoma and the Highland Tower, but this is the company’s first stab at naming an entire neighborhood.
So what do you get if you win the contest? Glory? Yes. Fame? No. A representative of Good Project tells Swamplot that there are no plans to give credit to any person who submits a winning entry:
. . . we are already getting multiples of many of the same names and if consensus ends up being the voice that names the neighborhood then it would be impossible to call out just one individual. Most people are content with being included in the process, this is an opportunity that is rarely afforded to the citizens of any city.
That’s right! Naming is a job usually reserved for specialists.
So how can you help? If you’ve got a great name for the East Downtown district, send an email with your suggestion to email@example.com. If you’ve got a great name but want some recognition for your efforts, add a comment below this message on Swamplot after you send your email to the contest — so everyone can see what name you suggested and when.
If your entry is chosen by the District Formerly Known as East Downtown and we’ve got evidence in our comments that you posted it below before anyone else, we’ll make sure you receive credit on Swamplot for your contribution!
Nancy Sarnoff’s short interview with the woman responsible for naming new streets in The Woodlands is just too rich:
We use a lot of words that are just appealing, pretty images, like Peaceful Canyon. That neighborhood sold really well and I think it’s because of the name. We even did radio commercials that played off the name and it really helped market the area. Others are Racing Cloud, Amber Glow and Destiny Cove. We even have ones from Star Wars. That day I was really desperate. Nothing was popping into my head. We have lots of nautical names around Lake Woodlands like Outrigger’s Run.
Woodlands Operating Co. marketing director Susan Vreeland-Wendt confirms every cliché about the origins of subdivision street names, from the historical revisionism (“One of our presidents is Alex Sutton, and we have a street named Sutton Mill”) to the what-I-drank-for-dinner-last-night story (“I’ve been known to pore over wine bottles looking for inspiration”) — except the one about suburban names coming from geographical features that were demolished or removed so the place could be built. Fortunately, The Woodlands does carry on the proud Houston tradition of naming places after imaginary or wished-for amenities: