So I posted something similar to this today on Orkut in response to a question about neighborhood names (not that I'm a big Orkut user or anything). Thought I'd share it here, as I really want the word Subhattan to take off. And if it does, say, in twenty years, maybe Alphabet City will be called North-Subhattan. Or NoSubHatto or NoSubHo or NoSHo.
____ Dear T,
In answer to your query about whether you live in the East Village or Alphabet City or the Lower East Side. Well, historically, the Lower East Side was bounded by 14th Street on the north, Catherine Street on the south, Broadway on the west and the East River on the east. (Yet, historically, the western border of the Virginia colony was the Pacific Ocean.) Now, most treat East Houston Street as the Northern border of the LES. But then again, many businesses in the East Village have Lower East Side in their business name, and of course long-time residents think of themselves as living in the LES. (And I certainly am not arguing with them, as they may hurt me.) Yet we can't do away with the East Village can we? (Can we?) To borrow from evolution, let's say the East Village is the phylum Chordata to the LES's Kingdom Animalia.
The East Village fully emerged by the 1960s, so deserves its own name, however, the East Village now seems to be absorbing Alphabet City. What to do? I say the more names the better. And oddly, the West Village, er, doesn't exist--I mean Greenwich Village--seems to have absorbed the western end of the East Village, and of course, the East Village jumped C and D and officially annexed Williamsburg by, say, 1994.
However, I like the aspect of using historic and newly coined neighborhood names simultaneously.
For my neighborhood, below Delancey, there are a few recent choices--some say LoHo (enough with the Ho's already), some BelDel, most say LES, but I prefer the 19th century usage for my particular area, Rag-Picker's Alley, and also a new name I hope catches on, Subhattan. This is not meant to offend. I think it sounds kind of like a superhero, and of course, is a play on the east end of Grand Street's suburban aspects and the prefix for under or below.
In conversation I think it sounds kind of cool. "Where is it you live again John Ball?" "Oh, down in Rag Picker's Alley, you know, Subhattan. I love it."
Say it with me--Sub hat ten. Subhattan. There. Rolls off the tongue--it's like Manhattan, but has that cool sub-quality.
If you live by Tompkins Square Park, you could pick the mid-19th century usage and say, "I live in Kleindeutschland, you know, Little Germany." And if that's confusing add "The Lower East Side, right, Alphabet City, yep, in the East Village, some people call it NoSubHatto."