City Desk

Should Politics & Prose’s Neighborhood Be Called “SoChe,” “NeConn,” or “Literary Alley?”

Attempts to change neighborhood names have become annoyingly common in D.C. The GaPSoMoSoNYA: all terrible. If some business owners have their way, a stretch of Connecticut Avenue NW may be getting its own new, unofficial name—and hopefully one that's significantly less awful than its brethren in rebranding.

Ask any loyal customer of Politics & Prose what neighborhood the bookstore is located in  and you'll get a variety of answers. Chevy Chase? The store's too far south. Van Ness? It's too far north. Forest Hills? Wakefield? Maybe, technically, but those neighborhoods don't have great name recognition. Even P&P owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine weren't sure what to call the stretch of Connecticut Avenue NW just south of Nebraska Avenue. A few months ago, the pair discussed planning neighborhood activities with the owners of nearby French bistro Terasol when the idea struck them: Instead of stressing about which neighborhood their businesses belong to, why not come up with a new name for the area?

Politics & Prose's owners shared their idea with local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Manolis Priniotakis, who found the idea intriguing. When the group initially tried to come up with an existing name for the area, "we couldn't think of any that we'd heard," Graham says. "As we batted around this idea with a few others, it seemed to be kind of a void that maybe we could fill." Graham and Muscatine decided to ask their customers what the neighborhood should be called, so they asked for suggestions on the store's website. Naturally, ideas flooded in. Some reference other neighborhoods, some spell out the geographic location, and some describe the businesses on the block.

Below, a few of the most interesting suggestions.

SoChe, short for South Chevy Chase and pronounced "so-chee, " like the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. So-so.

NeConn, short for Nebraska and Connecticut: Sounds too much like neocon. Next!

Connfess, short for Connecticut and Fessenden: Slightly demanding and a bit ominous.

Connecticut Park, Connecticut Corner, Connecticut Heights: Connecticut Avenue is a long street with a lot of parks, corners, and heights. Too confusing.

Literary Alley: Can a major artery really be called an alley?

So far, no favorites have emerged, but Graham says he was "pleasantly surprised at how many suggestions we received from our initial column about this." If people have additional suggestions, they can send ideas to For what it's worth, I think the block should be called Rock Paper City, in tribute to Politics & Prose's broad selection of printed pages and Comet Ping Pong's excellent indie-rock bookings.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Anne

    How about naming the area State 'Hood? (State Hood, statehood, DC Statehood, geddit? LOL)

    But seriously, the Chevy Chase Circle has a fountain named after the founder of Chevy Chase DC and MD -- Francis Griffiths Newlands -- so why not name the neighbourhood Newland? Or Griffiths, which was my Mother's maiden name, that would be cool, too, but not of general interest. LOL (I'm a native of DC and grew up in CC, MD, right by the circle.)

  • Tom M.

    Not this game again! I've gotta go with "Chevy Chase Park". Pronounced "See-Chap"

  • Purify

    I'm glad life's so interesting up there that a big deal in people's life is what cutesy, douchetastic name to call their neighborhood.

    What's wrong with the name most people in the rest of the city refer when discussing that area and those areas west of the park? I think Whiteyville has a great and appropriate ring to it.

  • Tom M.

    Wait. What about North Van Ness (NoVa). Is that already taken???

  • Jim Ed

    I vote for NeXteXo, short for Next To Exxon. It's got a nice ring to it.

  • maptastic

    anybody for NECT? Nebraska and Connecticut?

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  • PDMtP

    How about, um, Forest Hills? You know, some pride in your actual neighborhood and neighbors?

    "Nobody knows this is Forest Hills, so let's make up our own dumb name that might be 'less awful' than some of the others!" Makes sense to me.

  • noodlez


  • tenley

    We call this area "over by the schrichtes" because our friends the Schrichtes use to live there.

  • iaom

    As a fan of neighborhood names from natural features, let me suggest Broad Branch.

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  • Sandlynn

    I agree with one of my fellow posters. The place already has a name: Forest Hills, which is recognized by many who live in the area. Why not use it and give it some cache rather than make up a new one?

  • j

    I think the City Paper correctly pegged this corner of DC as "Subarubia" or was it "Upper Caucasia"?

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    Can we get in the "Avalon" somehow or is that too far north on Conn Ave NW?

  • цarьchitect

    Maybe it doesn't need a new name to get recognition, it needs better reasons for people to know it's there. I mean, was there a NoMa before there was a swath of development that needed promoting? Tenleytown was almost entirely forgotten as a toponym before the Metro put it back on the map.

    If there was more at that intersection, people would know it.

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  • CookInDineOut

    I like the idea of calling it Forest Hills, since that is a recognizable part of the city and it's a nice name that nods to the park nearby and the fact that it's one of the highest points in the city. However, technically only half of this area (the east side) is in Forest Hills, while the other half (the west side) is in Wakefield.

  • Me

    Christ, people with your neighborhood names. Chevy Chase. Politics and Prose is in Chevy Chase. Not once in 25 years have I ever heard someone say they lived in "Forest Hills", no one would know what the hell they're talking about.