The unofficial district by the new stadium was previously known as Downtown East. It has a new name.
Drum roll, trumpet fanfare: East Town.
OK. Well. As your mother might have said, if you can’t say something nice, then go work for a newspaper.
“Downtown East” isn’t the most … romantic term, but it has three virtues:
1. It tells you where you are. You are downtown. Where it is all easty and such.
2. It has a commanding meter. Three syllables. It sounds like two raps on a snare drum followed by a cymbal: down town EEEast. You emphasize the East when you say it.
3. If you use the initials, you make a nice rhyme. “We’re meeting at DTE.” No one would say this, of course, because “DTE” takes no less time to say than “Downtown East.”
Now let’s look at the new version. East Town. Apparently someone in charge looked at “Downtown East” and said “No, it’s not generic enough. I still get the sense of a particular place, like a downtown.”
One big problem: “East Town” is impossible to say correctly. Say it out loud. What sound emerged from your lips? Right: Eeestown. Now say this: “East Broadway.” What did you hear? Right: the T in “East.” Some of us don’t like to give up our T’s without a fight, lest the whole language turn into a series of slurry mumblings, so we’ll pronounce both T’s, and sound like idiots.
Try to say it with both T’s enunciated. It comes out Easta-Town, as if you’re a clichéd Italian in an old movie. You come-a to the East-a Town-a, you have-a the spaghet, no?
Nice logo, though. No idea what it means, but it’ll look good on promotional brochures and signs informing visitors that this is EAST TOWN, in case the position of the sun was no help whatsoever.
Be fair, though: It’s tough to come up with an umbrella name for the 100-block district, which includes two official city neighborhoods, Elliot Park and Downtown East, and one unofficial area, called the Mill District.
Unlike Uptown, it has no central organizing character, other than its Eastness and Southness. There’s the old housing stock of Elliot Park; the new construction filling the middle blocks to Washington; the revitalized riverfront. It’s literally all over the map, and that’s why it’s hard to think of it as a distinct, coherent whole.
Chances of adoption
It might be hard to get people to use the name because no one uses any name for the area in the first place. That may change as East Town becomes more residential, but it seems more likely that people moving into the apartments under construction to the west of the park will throw their lot in with residential Elliot. This makes a distinction between their location and the Mill District, which has a different character.
But let’s say new residents don’t want to belong to Elliot. They want to join a New, Vibrant Community rising alongside the Stadium. Elliot means different things to different people, but everyone knows the Stadium. Perhaps there’s something Vikings-related that would not intrude on any copyright? Valhalla South? Touchdown Downtown?
OK, that’s lame. But it could have been lamer: Some of the rejected names for the area included “E Do,” which sounds like someone with a cold describing what some guy did to him. “East Central Square,” which suggests statues devoted to heroes of the Revolution. Someone suggested “East Loop” (pronounced “Eeesloop”) but there is no such thing.
Here’s a real high-caliber bullet we dodged: SoFa (south of Fifth Avenue).
Imagine how that would sound: “Where do you live?” “SoFa.” “Oh, crashing at a friend’s house, then.”
This four-letter /two vowel trend comes from some mistaken impression that every town needs a SoHo, or newcomers will be confused. Excuse me, native dweller, but I’m looking for a place with narrow restaurants in old buildings and funky little shops in the process of being driven out by upscale merchants.
Here’s a suggestion: Since two acronym names are hip, let’s have an Off Lower Eastside and a Lower East North Anywhere.
Surely the names for OLe and LeNa will stick.