Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.
Along Brooklyn’s watery perimeter sits Dumbo — not the flying elephant, but a pricey industrial-turned-residential corner of Kings County where centers of America’s industry have been transformed into luxury condos.
Originally known as Fulton Landing (the muse of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”), the area was renamed DUMBO by fearful residents in the 1970s. The name is an acronym for the area’s literal location Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It was meant to deter real estate brokers and the looming specter of gentrification.
Fun fact: The artists also considered naming the area DANYA, for District Around the Navy Yard Annex.
A single tower of the bridge in 1909. The span wouldn’t be completed for another three years. The Empire State Building wouldn’t rise until 1931.
Over a Century of the Manhattan Bridge Seen From Dumbo (Photos)
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Dumbo Breaks Sale Records, Is Crowned Brooklyn’s Most Expensive ‘Hood in 2015