How to Name a Subdivision

I’ve been doing quite a bit of suburban running lately. First, because we live in (you guessed it) a land of many subdivisions. Second, because my optimal running time is between 5:00am and 6:00am, after LilRunr has had his first bottle for the day and gone back to sleep but before Scott needs to leave for work. At such a time, it’s much, much easier to just head out the front door and start running than to get in the car and seek out a trail.

There’s not much to look at in the early morning hours. Hardly any other runners choose to workout before daylight now that the daytime temperatures are pleasant, so I don’t have the drama of made-up competition to keep my brain working. There aren’t too many cars on the road, either, so I can’t even pass the time playing that age-old game of “do I know them/should I wave/are they stalkers/will they hit me.”

I’ve settled for analyzing the names of the local subdivisions, and after much research I think I’ve come up with the formula for successfully naming them.

1. Living Thing
First, you need to think of a living thing. It could be an animal or a plant. Stay away from domestic animals, groups or names of people, and plants with negative associations. Animals somehow associated with England or literature are preferred. Water is a reasonable substitute, because it “moves” and can therefore meet this requirement.

So, you may have Fox, Deer, Raven, or River. Parakeet, Joanne, or Poison Sumac are not advised.

2a. Geographic Formation
Paired up with your living thing will be some kind of geographic formation or landmark. Again, I can’t overestimate the importance of positive or inspiring word choices. You’re more likely to see “Crest,” “Hills,” or “Valley” before you’ll ever find a “Swamp,” “Pit,” or “Crevasse.”

2b. Community
Alternately, the subdivision could be named for some kind of community. The community must be smallish and romanticized…likely the kind of place that people have seen on black and white TV but doesn’t actually exist in real life. Think “Village.”

2c. Home
This is my personal favorite. Rather than geography or community, the subdivision can describe the type of home. As far as I can tell, the name is frequently the opposite of what you’d actually find in the subdivision. “Estate” or “Manor” is most likely to describe a trailer park. The only place I’ve ever seen “Cottages” is a fancy schmancy golf course neighborhood. That place has a lake, park, and fantastic trail…but the parking area besides the lake forbids non-residents from making use of it. Tsk.

That’s really all there is to it. I’ve seen a few variations, thinks like Ravenwood Falls that go for a two-for-one special (animal AND plant), or something like Estates at Cider Creek, where typically the “at” refers to a fictional place that the developer thought sounded good. There probably isn’t a creek named Cider or even a creek at all in the vicinity.

What I’d like to see is something completely different. Something like “Home” or “Sevencity” or “Q”. Break the mold, people! Think outside the box.

I can dream.


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