18 Strange Neighborhood Names (and the Stories Behind Them)
Most neighborhoods in America have generic names. No matter where you live, there’s almost definitely a neighborhood with some name that includes the word “hills,” “oaks,” “lake” or “highland” nearby.
But some neighborhoods have names that will make you do a double-take and ask yourself, “Why?” We searched for some of the weirder and more interesting neighborhoods from all around the country and researched their origin. We also checked out their real estate market to see how much it would cost to live there, just in case you felt like moving somewhere a bit more interesting.
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Name origin: No one knows for sure where the name come from, although the Dinkytown Business Alliance has some theories:
- Because it’s small.
- It may have been named after a dime store called Dinky Town Dime.
- It may have been named after the Grodnik Building, and “grodnik” means “little village” in Russian.
- One of the area’s first theaters only had four rows of seating, and may have been called dinky.
- Small locomotive hauling cars were called dinkys, and Dinkytown was close to a train station that may have been referred to as Dinkytown Station.
Real estate glimpse: A six-bedroom, 2,023-square foot house recently sold for $150,000.
Back of the Yards
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Name origin: The neighborhood was named Back of the Yards because of its proximity to the Union Stock Yard, which was built in 1865. Its population was mainly immigrant butchers, as the neighborhood was also close to Chicago’s enormous meatpacking district. Life was squalid for people in this neighborhood back then — Back of the Yards was the setting for Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.”
Real estate glimpse: Listing prices range from around $70,000 to around $250,000.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Name origin: According to DCist, Foggy Bottom’s name “was spawned from smoke and fog that hovered over the industries once housed on the area’s low, swampy land.”
Real estate glimpse: Foggy Bottom is a pretty wealthy neighborhood with mostly apartments. The median listing price is $600,000 according to realtor.com, and more upscale apartments list for several million. In 2017, Foggy Bottom was named the most expensive place to rent in D.C., with the median two-bedroom apartment renting for $4,620 per month.
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Name origin: Instead of conforming to Minneapolis’ gridded structure with alphabetical and numerical street names, Tangletown is a tangle of winding streets with names like Gladstone and Rustic Lodge Avenue.
Real estate glimpse: The average home sale in Tangletown is about $533,000, according to Redfin.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Name origin: There’s no proven reason, but the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association has some theories:
- A saleswoman selling produce door-to-door found that cabbage sold better than everything else, so she gave the neighborhood the Cabbagetown nickname, and people slowly adopted its usage.
- Poor transplants from Appalachia grew cabbages in their front yard, and the wafting smell of cooking cabbage gave the neighborhood its nickname.
- A train carrying cabbages derailed nearby, and residents took the cabbages home to cook and use in every meal.
Real estate glimpse: Cabbagetown’s homes sell for an average of $413,000, according to Redfin.
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Name origin: A newspaper from 1953 states that Squirrel Hill was a good area for hunting and “gray squirrels abounded there, scratching up the corn of nearby farmers, making nests in eaves of houses and keeping folks up at night with squirrelly chatter.” There is a Squirrel Hill North and Squirrel Hill South, but locals treat it as one neighborhood.
Real estate glimpse: According to realtor.com, the median listing price in Squirrel Hill is $425,000, although there are over two dozen homes listed for $1 million or more.
Location: Miami, Florida
Name origin: It’s not downtown, it’s Overtown. Overtown was a segregated black neighborhood that was also known as Colored Town at the start of the 20th century. The name Overtown was adopted because nearby white residents would say that they had to go “over town” to reach the neighborhood, according to Miami New Times.
Real estate glimpse: The median listing price in Overtown is $303,000, according to realtor.com.
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Name origin: According to Pigtown Main Street, this neighborhood in downtown Baltimore got its nickname in the 1840s “when cargo railcars from the Midwest would swing open their doors at the nearby platform to let carloads of pigs out.”
Real estate glimpse: Pigtown is mostly made up of condos and apartments, which list for a median of $155,000.
Location: Wilmington, Delaware
Name origin: This little neighborhood derives its name from its location from the Trinity Episcopal Church. Each of the houses in Trinity Vicinity was constructed by different builders over 100 years ago, making each home and building unique, according to Out & About.
Real estate glimpse: There are few homes or apartments up for sale in Trinity Vicinity, but a six-bedroom, 4,250 square-foot triplex is listed for $290,000.
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Name origin: This one’s new. In 2018, Amazon announced it would build its second headquarters in Northern Virginia. So Arlington County decided to create “a newly branded neighborhood encompassing parts of Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington and Potomac Yard in Alexandria” called National Landing. Residents were confused. But if they owned property, they were also happy.
Real estate glimpse: Real estate has spiked in this newly branded area, with median listing prices increasing from a low of $780,000 in November 2018 to a high of $1.6 million in June 2019. Just one month after Amazon made its announcement to move to the neighborhood, prices jumped by 75.5 percent, according to Urban Turf.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Name origin: In the late mid-to-late 1800s, people raised geese in the gulches and hollows of this neighborhood. Which apparently caused some disputes — the more geese there were, the more confused people were about who owned which geese. This caused a physical altercation between two women, and later the two duked it out in court. The incident was publicized in the local paper, which coined the neighborhood’s nickname in 1879, according to the Goose Hollow Foothills League.
Real estate glimpse: Located adjacent to downtown Portland, Goose Hollow is now a pretty pricey spot. Tiny studio apartments can rent for over $1,000 a month, and the median listing price is $356,000, with almost all sales being for condos or apartments.
Location: San Diego, California
Name origin: Despite the weird name, this one is surprisingly normal. Normal Heights is derived from the San Diego State Normal School (which is now a parking lot). Normal schools were state-funded teacher colleges.
Real estate glimpse: The median listing price for a home in Normal Heights is $559,500, with a median price-per-square foot of $504, according to realtor.com.
Location: San Francisco, California
Name origin: The Tenderloin district in San Francisco appears to have taken its name from a neighborhood in Manhattan which no longer exists. In Manhattan, the Tenderloin was a red light district rife with crime. The legend goes that a corrupt police captain, upon being transferred to the area in 1876, said “I’ve been having chuck steak ever since I’ve been on the force. Now I’m going to have a bit of tenderloin.” In other words, the captain would receive more bribes and could afford better cuts of steak in this neighborhood.
Real estate glimpse: Not many places are up for sale in Tenderloin district, but here are a few examples:
Location: Imperial County, California
Name origin: Slab City isn’t a recognized place — it’s a ramshackle community for people who either want to live way off the grid in RVs. Time described Slab City as “a squatters' camp deep in the badlands of California's poorest county, where the road ends and the sun reigns, about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles and hour's drive from the Mexican border.” There are no government services of any kind, so residents who live here have to fetch their own water, dispose of their own waste and handle their own problems.
Slab City gets is nicknames from the concrete slabs that dot the landscape, leftovers from decommissioned a World War II military base.
Real estate glimpse: It’s free! Because there’s nowhere to live.
Location: Greenwich, Connecticut
Name origin: The name is an unfortunate corruption of an Indian chief named chief Mayanno, which means “he who gathers together.” The guys from “Jackass” traveled to Mianus in 2000, where they giggled like schoolboys at the town’s rectal-sounding name.
Real estate glimpse: It’s pretty expensive to live in Mianus. Houses can range from around $500,000 for a condo to several million dollars for a mansion.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Name origin: Edgar Rice Burroughs, who moved to the area after finding enormous success after creating Tarzan, started this Los Angeles neighborhood 100 years ago. He purchased a 540-acre estate for $125,000 in 1919, and nicknamed it Tarzana, then later tried to sell off lots of his sprawling ranch for a Tarzana community. People weren’t interested. In the 1930s, Burroughs sold the rest of Tarzana for $30,000, according to LA Weekly.
Real estate glimpse: You’ll need a fat wallet in order to take a swing at Tarzana’s real estate market. The median listing price is $639,000, according to realtor.com, and the priciest home on the market is selling for $9.95 million.
Location: New York City, New York
Name origin: Hell’s Kitchen was a violent place from the 1880s until the 1950s, full of warring gangs, slums and corrupt cops. There’s no clear answer as to how Hell’s Kitchen got its name, but the best story is this one. A sign in Hell’s Kitchen Park reads: “One rookie cop commented to his more seasoned partner, ‘This place is hell itself.’ ‘Hell’s a mild climate,’ his partner replied. ‘This is hell’s kitchen.’”
Real estate glimpse: The highest-priced priced condo currently listed in Hell’s Kitchen is a 15,000 square-foot, 10-bedroom one that’s listed for $85 million. A one-bedroom, 648-square foot co-op is selling for $430,000.
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Name origin: This neighborhood is named after a confederate colonel named Charles W. Woolsey, who built a crazy looking house called Witchwood. Woolsey Dip is a tiny neighborhood located in a little valley (that’s where the ‘dip’ comes from) near Jackson Park.
Real estate glimpse: No homes for sale or recently sold, but you can book a room for $109 a night at this cozy studio cottage.