Two-syllable abbreviated neighborhood names have become as ubiquitous in central Denver in recent years as microbrews and mountain views. There area at least six: LoDo, RiNo, LoHi, NoDo, SoCo, and SoBo, and it seems likely more will pop up in the future. Many other cities around the country have a neighborhood or two with an abbreviated name, but no other city has as many in such a small area. Why? What is it about these names that appeals so much to Denverites, specifically?
My theory is that it’s all LoDo’s fault. In many ways, LoDo was the first place in Colorado where inner city redevelopment hit the mainstream. Therefore, LoDo has been the model for every other urban neighborhood renaissance in Denver since. LoDo instilled the idea in to the cultural consciousness of Coloradoans that having a two-syllable abbreviated neighborhood name is synonymous with a successfully redeveloped urban neighborhood.
The phenomenon of abbreviated names isn’t unique to Denver, but the phenomenon of attaching one to just about every neighborhood possible is, and it is happening because people here associate such names with quality urban neighborhoods.
It’s a little bit like how “lofts” has become synonymous with “urban living” and “light rail” has become synonymous with “any passenger train”. Those were the terms that were specific to what happened early in Denver’s urban renaissance process, so now people have hijacked them and use them for anything even remotely related.
What do you think about these names? Love them or hate them? Are they a quirky example of unique local culture, or the contrived invention of real-estate marketers?