Saturday, April 21, 2007

Adventures in nomenclature

Ridiculous subdivision names have long been a source of amusement for me. There are plenty of subdivision name generators on the Internet, but my favorite is located on the Denver Infill Blog. While it's fun to poke fun, there is truth to the adage that suburban housing developments are often named for what they destroy or degrade. If a subdivision has the word "woods," "forest" or "meadow" in it, that's a good clue to what used to be in the land before it was cleared and replanted with McMansions.

In my part of the world, subdivision names are trending away from natural themes toward words that describe social or cultural situations, often coated in a sweet nostalgic glaze. For example, across the river in South Carolina we find a new "town" called "Tradition." According to its Web site, Tradition "will take its inspiration from those charming communities of days-gone-by." What made these mythical places so charming? Well, Tradition's copywriters reveal that these communities existed in a long ago age...
when you could walk or bike to the store or your favorite restaurant. When every neighborhood had its own parks and playgrounds. When homes had front porches from which you could gaze out onto your little corner of the world and say 'hi' to your passing neighbors.
In other words, Tradition will offer the kind of living arrangement that was standard issue in most of the United States before people abandoned these communities for outlying suburban housing. To be fair, Tradition's mixed use development and walkable streets are a drastic improvement over the suburban residential schemes of the previous decades.

Despite it's new urbanist leanings, Tradition's residents (Traditionalists?) will still be spending plenty of time on Interstate 95 and Highway 278 in transit to their jobs and the rest of the world that exists beyond Tradition's "town limits." And even though mention is made of residents bicycling to the store or a favorite restaurant, planners are taking steps to make sure a different sort of vehicle will become more common than bicycles on Tradition's streets:
To reduce the need for cars on the streets even further, Tradition South Carolina will provide every home with an electric golf cart…the perfect in-town “get around” that’s convenient, clean and quiet.
Why not provide every home with utility bicycles? Certainly would be cheaper. And, to my way of thinking, the bicycle is the rightful owner of the "perfect in-town get around" title.

But let's get back to naming subdivisions. This morning my television set brought me news of a new subdivision called "The Gates," which is — you guessed it — a gated community. I'm hoping this refreshing and frank approach to subdivision naming will be adopted by others. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for full page ads in the newspaper real estate section promoting "The Sprawl at Southbridge," "Commuters' Bluff," and "Carport Cove." Wow! This is fun. Anyone else care to give it a try? Feel free to leave your proposed subdivision names in the comments section.


Evan said...

Not too far from here there's a new subdivision called Renaissance. All the houses look like bad copies of Italian villas, and the community wall is painted with bad copies of the works of the Italian masters. It's ridiculous, but the best part is that the houses start in the low 1-million.

Venessa said...

I live in Smokerise subdivision. Didn't think much about it until the house on the corner burned down on Sunday. I cannot imagine what inspired the name, but I'm hoping it isn't some kind of prediction...