In New York City, every part of all five boroughs has carefully delineated boundaries and a name: The Upper East Side, Williamsburg, Harlem, Greenwich Village, The Upper West Side, the list goes on.
No square inch of concrete is unaccounted for. Why the anal retentiveness over real estate? Well, in the Big Apple, all of that pavement is occupied, by hotels, apartments, cheap electronics retailers, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, clubs, you name it. Up there, telling someone or advertising that you live or work in a certain neighborhood is a lot easier than giving her street coordinates and saying, “South Manhattan” – or “North Manhattan,” “East Manhattan,” or “West Manhattan.”
Here in Cowtown, we’re blessed with wide-open spaces and really don’t need to worry about naming certain city blocks. Using NSEW is good enough. But now that the area formerly known as “Summit and West Seventh, by Henderson” has been labeled the “Upper West Side,” some big-wigs here are ready to play the name game in other parts of Fort Worth – and not without good reason.
Nightlife below Sundance Square is slowly picking up. In addition to the Cuban-themed Embargo (Calhoun and Eighth streets) and Bar Nine (900 Houston St.), the area now has Bent (907 Houston), the place formerly known as Saporé and like Bar Nine also owned by Jarrett Joslin. The name he’s pushing? SoDo, meaning “South of Downtown.” His obvious source of inspiration: So7, a forthcoming West Seventh Street-area apartment complex whose obvious source of inspiration is New York City’s SoHo, a moniker that stands for “South of Houston Street.” (Note that Yanks don’t pronounce Houston as hew-ston but how-ston. Don’t ask me.)
Joslin reasons that his bars and Embargo would do well to separate themselves from Sundance Square and its preponderance of family-friendly chain establishments. Not all scenesters agree. “I like the idea, but I just don’t think it needs a lame-ass name,” said Darlyn Inkelaar, downtown hanger-outer and buyer for Sundance Square shops Earth Bones and Retro Cowboy. “Why does everything have to be ‘Upper West Side’ this or ‘South of Downtown’ that? I don’t want to be negative, but why can’t we just be ‘downtown’?”
SoDo presumably includes the whole downtown area south of about Sixth Street, where the Bass family influence isn’t so strong. For now, there’s just Bent, Embargo, and Nine, but SoDo will soon have the Houston Street Bar and Patio, sommelier “Cef” Zambrano’s yet-to-be-named club next door, and Bob’s Chop House in the Omni Hotel, scheduled to open in 2008, adjacent to the convention center.
I’m still wondering about that name, though. I got a feeling that some folks are gonna call it “So-dew,” which will just exacerbate confusion. A suggestion: SoSun, as in “South of Sundance.” What do you think? Send suggestions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll write about ’em next week.
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