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Thread: The Newest Entry in Neighborhood Scrabble: BoCoCa

  1. #1

    Default The Newest Entry in Neighborhood Scrabble: BoCoCa

    March 14, 2004


    The Newest Entry in Neighborhood Scrabble


    For some, South Brooklyn will always be South Brooklyn, although it is, in fact, in northern Brooklyn, and is also referred to, alternatively, as Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Boerum Hill and the Columbia Waterfront District.

    But another name for the area has emerged, in the form of a well-appointed Web site and a series of sleek brochures: BoCoCa. Enveloping the names Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens into one NoLIta-esque jumble, the idea of BoCoCa was poised to sweep the land upon its inception three years ago.

    There's one problem. "Nobody uses that nomenclature," said Joe Natoli, a local real estate agent who said he would lose money if he advertised BoCoCa apartments. "I'm here all day, and I've never heard anyone say that."

    Though Time Out New York and other magazines have used the term, BoCoCa isn't mentioned in listings for apartments in the area, usually a bellwether of neighborhood name-ness. Local standbys like the Cobble Hill Cinema and the Carroll Gardens Association have kept their names.

    Although whether a newly coined neighborhood name will catch on is subject to many variables (SpaHa, anyone?), in this case, the reason may simply be that the name is less a homegrown invention than a financial tool. BoCoCa was born when Christopher Branstetter, a Web designer who works in Downtown Brooklyn, was asked to create a shopping guide for the area, which has fashionable Smith Street as its main artery. He needed a name for it; BoCoCa simply popped into his head.

    The guide has proved popular; it is given away without charge in local boutiques like Refinery, and Mr. Branstetter prints new copies every six months. He charges businesses $135 for the privilege of being listed, and attracts 5,000 visitors a month.

    "It has kind of a Latin flair, BoCoCa," said Mr. Branstetter, who estimated that half the local residents know about the name, though they don't necessarily pronounce it correctly (it's bo-CO-ca).

    The lack of excitement over BoCoCa may exist because the names of the neighborhoods that constitute it are themselves recent inventions, created in the 60's to put a new shine on what was then called South Brooklyn. And yet another competitor has entered the scene. Frank Galeano, who works with Mr. Natoli, has recently introduced CoWaDi, for Columbia Waterfront District, the strip of restaurants and shops along Columbia Street.

    "It might catch on," Mr. Galeano said. "Cobble Hill rolls off the tongue, but Columbia Waterfront District is tough to put on a letterhead."

    The competition is not impressed. "Oh, really?" Mr. Branstetter said when informed of the arrival of CoWaDi. "I don't like that at all. It sounds weird. It sounds like another language or something."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    West Harlem


    I don't think Carroll Gardens or Cobble Hill is too difficult to say.

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