The History Behind the Names of NYC’s Neighborhoods

When people hear “New York,” several images come to mind: the skyscrapers across the island of Manhattan, the brownstone apartments of Brooklyn, and businesspeople rushing around Wall Street. Within the larger images of the city are dozens of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct flavor. The history of these neighborhoods is often hinted at in their names and in the stories they tell.

Harlem

The New York City skyline

This large neighborhood stretching from the north border of Central Park to 155th St. takes its name from the original Dutch settlers of the island. It is a variation of Haarlem, a city that’s close to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. When New York City was New Amsterdam in the 1600s, the main Dutch settlement was in the area that now known as the Financial District, and Harlem was considered just a small village in the countryside.

SoHo, NoHo, and Tribeca

Sometimes the names of neighborhoods come from the nickname that the people who live there use. Most people can figure out that names SoHo and NoHo are references to the neighborhoods’ locations South of Houston Street and North of Houston Street, respectively. Not as many people know that Tribeca is a reference to the triangle below Canal Street.

The Garment District

Today, this neighborhood south of Times Square is known for being home to the stores of many major fashion labels. Some people might think that this is where it gets its name. In fact, the name comes from the actual production of clothing garments. In the early part of the 20th Century, the neighborhood was home to many textile factories.

New York City is an ever-changing story that’s written on the streets, parks, and even people that make up the city. It is an experience unlike any other that students at ALCC American Language get to live each day. Since 1975, we have offered courses that come with the enriching experience of living in the heart of Manhattan. We help students secure F-1 student visas, enabling them to live and learn in this vibrant city. To take the first step towards an exciting learning experience, contact us at (212) 736-2373.

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