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99% Invisible: The SoHo Effect


On the May 13, 2016 edition of 99% Invisible.

In San Francisco, the area South of Market Street is called SoMa. The part of town North of the Panhandle is known as NoPa. Around the intersection of North Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, real estate brokers are pitching properties as part of NOBE. An area of downtown Oakland is being branded as KoNo, short for Koreatown Northgate. But no one actually calls it that, or at least, not yet.

These conventions have permeated just about every major city in America. In New York, there are brokers rebranding parts of Harlem as SoHa, sections of Little Italy as NoLita, and entire swaths of The Bronx as SoBro. And often with these new names, come newer, higher property valuations. At the intersection of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights,  (ProCro) real estate brokers now list properties in the traditionally more affordable area of Crown Heights at Prospect Heights price points.

There is not really a name for this naming convention. They are not quite acronyms, not quite portmanteaus, and not just abbreviations. We at 99% Invisible have been calling them acronames, or if you want to get in the spirit of the thing: AcNa’s for short [...]