As recently reported in The New York Times, the slowly gentrifying South Bronx is being rechristened as “SoBro” by residents as they recast a neighborhood that was once synonymous with burning cars and vacants lots, rather than art galleries and loft apartments. It is only the latest example of the rebranding trend that plagues the always-hot New York real estate market, where many Manhattan neighborhoods with perfectly fine names have already been given their own Soho-esque monikers in order to boost the local real estate market – Marble Hill (MaHi), Washington Heights (WaHI), Morningside Heights (SoHa), Lower Broadway (LoBro) and Lower Court Street in Brooklyn (LoCo).
The origins of all this can be found in London's West End, where “Soho” was once a sleepy hunting village on the city's outskirts, apparently named for a hunting cry. The now-bustling neighborhood has become one of the most trendy and expensive areas in the city and has spawned namesake imitators across the globe. Of course, the new nicknames are hardly seen outside of ads for local condominiums, but a select few have made their way into regular use:
SoHo (New York City): One of the first imitators, it's shorthand for South of Houston street, featuring highpriced boutiques, brick streets and what realtors call “old world charm.”
SoHo (Hong Kong): South of Hollywood Road is home to nightclubs and world-famous antique shops in the mid-levels of Hong Kong Island, but officials are reportedly fighting the moniker in favor of “Hong Kong Theme Restaurant District.”
NoHo: This describes the Manhattan neighborhood between the East and West Villages and north of SoHo, with another NoHo in Hong Kong.
SoMa: New name for the up-and-coming neighborhood South of Market Street in San Francisco.
SoFi: This very desirable patch, South of Fifth Street in Miami Beach, is apparently the city's final frontier and home to Icon Brickell, a new condominium complex with interiors by designer Philippe Starck.
SoBo: A failed attempt to rename a noman's land in South London, it was short for South of Borough and has been adopted – ironically – by a local cafe.