Opinion: Charlotte deserves better than generic, soulless neighborhood names like LoSo

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“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” – W.C. Fields

Development has brought much good to Charlotte, but it has resulted in an identity crisis for the traditional neighborhoods being overtaken and renamed. Not just renamed in an effort to erase an area’s history, but renamed to generic, soulless names.

Just south of the generically-named South End, another area is quickly filling up with a plethora of entertainment options. The area, roughly bound by Old Pineville Rd., Peterson Dr., Verbana St., Nations Crossing Rd., and South Tryon St., is technically called York Road, as Clayton Sealey pointed out in a recent C5 article.

If you’ve never heard of the York Road neighborhood, you’re not alone. The street changed its name to South Tryon long ago and there’s  no formal recognition of this as the neighborhood name, except for on Google maps. There’s no neighborhood association and no presence online or on social media sites.

It has become one of the most popular areas in Charlotte with multiple breweries, distilleries, a brand new entertainment center, and some of the area’s most ambitious development projects on the horizon. But what should it be called?

A strange, four-letter word has filled that void: LoSo. Even though a small part of me dies whenever I write or say it, it has somehow stuck around, thanks to some Charlotte media outlets (including C5) using it regularly and some business, especially Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, using it for marketing purposes.

A good chunk of people make fun of the name, which results in the name remaining front and center. On the other side, you’ve got a group pushing for Queen Park, especially with Queen Park Social — and the iconic sign — sitting right across the street from OMB.

The arguing over this particular neighborhood name is quite silly. The worst thing about the name is that it’s distinct rip-off of a New York City neighborhood naming style and it sounds like a tongue-tied singer at Jeff’s Bucket Shop struggling through a bad Toby Keith song.

 

Other neighborhoods have been hit much worse.

Take FreeMoreWest, for example. The name seems to whitewash historic Charlotte neighborhoods with deep roots for the sole purpose of looking good to developers and new businesses. Why can’t employers, developers, and new residents simply embrace the neighborhoods instead of erasing places like Ashley Park, Wesley Heights, Enderly Park, Seversville, and Biddleville?

The same goes for North End and neighborhoods like Tryon Hills, Druid Hills, Lockwood, and Double Oaks. Prior to recent developments with CAMP North End opening and NoDa Brewing expanding to its current location, the group that coined the term “North End” tried hard to erase the identity of the area, going as far as proposing to relocate people they deemed undesirable. Why use resources to try and quarantine people on a property a few miles away instead of dedicating resources to address the root causes of the neighborhoods’ hardships and residents within them?

Bringing in new business is good. Bringing in new people is good. Trying to displace people and erase history, while doing nothing about underlying issues even though you’re in a position to address those issues is bad.

A neighborhood name is simple and should be organic. If you want to erase history and replace it with labels as generic as new apartment building walls, you will disenfranchise people.

Come on, Charlotte. We can do better.

Photos: Charlotte Observer file; CharlotteFive file

10 COMMENTS

  1. Paaaaa-reach! I grew up near this “Lo-So” neighborhood and that name is garbage. Come on bougies, you are changing everything else, can we not at least keep the name?

  2. Here we go with the absolutely ridiculous obsession of naming neighborhoods. And yes, due to the forced, contrived efforts to name a neighborhood we get names that are … well, contrived. This city has bigger problems than to worry about what a particular neighborhood is called. So South End is too generic? Funny though, people know where you’re talking about. Neighborhood names evolve naturally. They shouldn’t be forced by those worried about hip, trendy sounding names. We’ve seen this in Montford. Oh excuse me, Montford Park. I guess adding “Park” to it makes it sound hipper? And yet when you said Montford, everyone knew you meant the Montford area. Let’s spend time focussing on some real issues in Charlotte and not on the silly attempts at naming neighborhoods.

  3. The area of S. Tryon near Orchard Circle should be called “The Orchard”. Presumably, there was an orchard there at some point…and the street is already there. Hot area now!

  4. Yeah, cause “soho” never caught on in nyc. Would you prefer “former low class neighborhood…now gentrified, hip and with better value?”

  5. Developers don’t care about anything you just said, they are in it to make money. Nothing wrong with that either!

  6. talking directly to you Common Market on monroe rd in the OAKHURST neighborhood!

    please drop the made up name. your in an area that has a real name, yet you have to make up something stupid. They recently had nice Oakhurst signs put atop all of the street signs. You could be one of the first things people think of when they hear Oakhurst.

  7. Isn’t it newsletters like yours that create and push these names? Every article is … its all about xyz neighborhood or abc spot.

  8. Funny how you left out NoDa. Does the old North Charlotte neighborhood get a pass because it caught on seemingly effortlessly?

    It’s going to be okay.

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