Canadians Reject ‘East Village,’ and Now There’s a West Village in Iowa

Mosaics of the East Village, New York City 32Vivienne Gucwa The original. Nuff said.

Remember how the Hastings-Sunrise neighborhood of Vancouver spent $20,000 re-branding its business district as the East Village? Well, according to the Vancouver Courier, residents haven’t exactly taken a shine to the new name. Some think it sounds like “a reference to New York City instead of celebrating what’s indigenous to Vancouver,” and in a recent survey of more than 450 Hastings-Sunrisers (East Villagers?), 81 percent of them preferred the old name.

Of course, Hastings-Sunrise is hardly the fist to poach the monicker. An area of Des Moines, Iowa, was renamed the East Village sometime around 2000. Todd Dorman, a columnist at The Gazette who was there when it happened, notes that the move “drew plenty of derision. Common reactions: ‘Can’t we even think of our own name?’ ‘Do we have to steal one from New York?'” But that isn’t stopping the City Council of Cedar Rapids, a couple of hours from Des Moines, from naming a flood-damaged commercial area of the city the West Village. (The Gazette has the story today.)

Maybe the folks of Cedar Rapids are hoping the area blossoms into “a progressive, pedestrian friendly neighborhood that offers an eclectic blend of historic buildings, hip eateries, boutiques, and a wide variety of retail establishments, including one of the area’s best local bookstores, East Village Books.” (That’s a description of the East Village in Des Moines, by the way.)

Of course, Canadians and Iowans aren’t the only ones who’ve bristled at being called East Villagers. Plenty of people right here between 14th and Houston Streets still know the neighborhood as the Lower East Side.