Whether you live in the New York area or not, you will hear of places that you will never be able to find on your map or in the index your Fodor’s. How could it be otherwise? Would you expect the residents of one of the largest, most diverse, most vibrant, and most rapidly evolving communities on Earth to be static and accepting of the names on maps drawn up two hundred years ago?

As a reference, let’s use this node to compile the slang and “unofficial” names for places in and around New York City.

Most of them seem to have their origin in hip-hop and to varying degrees may be used only used in that particular subculture. Others are more widely employed:

- “The City”
“The City” means Manhattan, never New York city as a whole. Origin unknown.
Use: absolutely universal. Learn it!

- “Crooklyn”
This probably originated in the 70’s. It is the title of a Spike Lee movie about the Fort Greene neighborhood of that era.
Use: widespread in hip-hop subculture, ironic usage otherwise.

- “The Bridge”
- “Killa Queens”
“The Bridge” is a reference to the Queensboro Bridge, Queens’ most prominent link with Manhattan. It can refer to the borough as a whole or to the Queensbridge neighborhood in particular.
Use: hip-hop subculture only. Not frequently employed.

- “The Boogie Down”
This originated in either the Disco era or the early hip-hop era.
Use: widespread in hip-hop subculture, ironic usage otherwise.

Staten Island:
- “Shaolin
Originated with the Wu-Tang Clan, a rap group who dramatically changed this suburban wasteland’s image in local and national consciousness.
Use: very widespread, hip-hop subculture and beyond. Used derogatorily also.
Interesting note: “Staten Island” itself, although universally used, is not technically the correct name for this borough, which is officially Richmond.

- “Uptown”
This goes back to the very first black settlement of Harlem in the 1910’s, when the black community of Manhattan relocated en-masse from the Lower West Side.
Use: widespread, from the Jazz age to current hip-hip subculture. Also used euphemistically in a derogatory way.
Caveat: “Uptown” can also just be a relative term meaning any part of Manhattan north of the location the word is being uttered. It has nothing to do with Harlem in this context.

Lower East Side:
- “Loisada”
This is just Spanglish for the Lower East Side.
Use: Used almost exclusively by the (diminishing number of) Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in the LES.
(Thanks to mikimoto for this one)

Long Island:
- “The Island”
- “Strong Isle”
“The Island” is used by all demographics. Handy shorthand.
Use: universal
“Strong Isle” was originally used by people in the ghetto enclaves of Roosevelt and Hempstead. Now can be used to refer to ghetto parts of “The Island” or “The Island” as a whole.
Use: mostly hip-hip sub culture, also otherwise. Also can be used derogatorily

Mount Vernon:
- “Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon”
This ghetto enclave in Westchester County has given us the likes of Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy.
Use: hip-hip subculture only.

New Jersey:
- “The Bricks”
- “Brick City”
Origin unknown to me, but probably dates back several generations. Probably a comment on the architecture of Newark. Term has been rediscovered by the hip-hop subculture, notably Redman. “The Bricks” can refer either to just the city of Newark, or all of the ghetto parts of inner Jersey, or all of inner Jersey, or the whole of suburban New Jersey. Context matters. “Brick City” is limited to Newark.
Use: mostly hip-hip sub culture, also elsewhere.

Honorable mentions:
TriBeCa, Alphabet City, Hell's Kitchen, and DUMBO were all slang names at one time, but have become the 'official' names for these neighborhoods.


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