New York City boasts a storied past, and these five neighborhoods are no exception. While some still keep up their roots, others have changed pretty significantly from their origins.

Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan

Although Greenwich Village was originally named “Sapokanikan” meaning “Tobacco Fields,” it was eventually renamed “Growenwijck” which is Dutch for “Pine District.” In the late 1800s, the area became more commercial as many of the more affluent residents gravitated toward Fifth Avenue. By the early 1900s, Greenwich Village was well-known for its bohemian vibe and low rents. During Prohibition, many people flocked from uptown to go to the Speakeasies in the area. Eventually, the abandoned row houses were turned into artistic flats.

Today, new developments aim to maintain the historical significance of Greenwich Village, like 66 East 11th Street, an 1897 building that once served as a dress shop. Devonshire House is also a new development in the area, which was once a PreWar condo with traditional Italianate and English detailing.

Brooklyn Heights

Some believe the name Brooklyn is derived from the Lenape Tribe, with translations to “the place where beards grow” and “valley of the beautiful squaws.” The name could also be derived from the Dutch, who named Brooklyn after Breukelen, Netherlands. The Dutch left Manhattan for what they perceived to be better soil in the heights across the river as opposed to Manhattan’s rocky soil. Formerly, Brooklyn was characterized as the “city of churches.” Brooklyn Heights is one of the more affluent neighborhoods within Brooklyn and was originally called Brooklyn Village. Today, it is still well-known for its townhouses.


Chelsea, on the west side of Manhattan, derives its name after British Major, Thomas Clarke’s home. Clarke purchased almost 100 acres in 1750 between what is currently 8th Avenue to the Hudson River and 21st and 24th streets. He built a home on the property naming it Chelsea after a retirement home and veteran’s hospital in Great Britain. The area was later industrialized bringing in many immigrants to work in the factories. The area has transformed to a mostly residential neighborhood with the average selling price of a home at $1.78 million.


Image via Flickr by royal_sports_club

 Financial District, Lower Manhattan

The name Wall Street in the Financial District isn’t a significant change from what the Dutch coined initially Walstraat. The Financial District was formally a commercial area but is now becoming the new trendy place to live. The area has seen a jump in residential properties to accommodate this trend. The landscape is changing in the Financial District as many former office buildings are now being repurposed into residences.

Theatre District, Midtown Manhattan


Images via Flickr by steve

The name Broadway stems from “de Brede Weg” or “Brede Straat” meaning wide street.  It was renamed Broadway by the English when they took control in 1664. The street was initially been a Lenape Trail that ran from lower Manhattan all the way to Boston. The area became famous for music and theater after the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House in 1883. The current median price for real estate in the area is around $1.5 million.

While the names have changed, the neighborhoods have maintained their integrity. Developers aid in this by incorporating the neighborhood history when building or repurposing old buildings into new developments.


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