[image-1]Names can be very important for a community. You want something that both manages to encapsulate the feel of an area, but also something that will stand the test of time.

Some communities are lucky, but for every well-branded city and town in America, there’s a Hell, Mich. or Lick Skillet, Tenn. That’s why the City of Charleston is making the extra effort to figure out what we should call the region on the east side of the upper peninsula.

Earlier this week, a survey was sent out to about 700 residents, business owners, workers, and elected officials with a connection to the chunk region of the peninsula located east of I-26, south to Huger Street and north to the Charleston city limits. The goal of this project, carried out with some pro bono assistance by Rawle Murdy, is to gather input on a few suggested names for the area from those with the most at stake. Paper copies of the survey are also being distributed at neighborhood meetings and community gatherings, and anyone else with a vested interest in the area can email info@charlestonup.com to get involved.

So let’s get into what names are being suggested for this section of the city. We here at the City Paper have always been partial to NoMo, which sadly was not included in the survey, although the name could live on as a section of whatever the region is ultimately called. (You can check out more on the history of the name NoMo below.)

From what we’re told, proposed names were developed by the city after several stakeholder meetings last fall, consultation with historians, and ongoing conversations with those who live and work in the area. The current list of suggestions on the table includes:


This isn’t your old man’s market. This is Newmarket, a place where hip, vibrant post-millennials can come to launch a startup or peddle baskets and painted seashells. Or that’s what you would think. But according to the survey, the name has a strong historical significance for the area.

“An early colonial-era farm in the survey area, primarily used for pasturage, was called Newmarket Plantation,” the survey explains. “In 1755, the Newmarket Race Course opened on the same site. Newmarket Creek is an inlet from the Cooper River that still exists today in the survey area, although it is much smaller in size. … Newmarket has historically been a name applied exclusively to land east of King Street. The name has both historical significance and acknowledges the fresh reawakening of the area.”

Upper Edge

Taking its inspiration from the area’s location at the upper edge of Charleston’s city limits, this option is said to bring to mind the concept of “living on the edge,” touching on not only the region’s position in the city, but also its “eclectic character, culture, and whimsical flare.” I suggest that if Upper Edge does win out as the new name for this community, we also adopt Aerosmith’s 1993 classic “Livin’ On the Edge” as the area’s official anthem and an abundance of colorful scarves be wrapped around all the street signs.

The Drum

Based on aerial maps of the area which depict a set of circular imagery that resembles drums, this option is perhaps the most abstract of the suggested names. I don’t want to sway anyone’s opinion, so I’ll just say imagine someone asking you what part of town you call home. You answer by saying, “The Drum.” Practice this in the mirror a few times. How does it make you feel? Can you live with this? Just follow whatever your heart tells you.

The survey also goes on to gauge the public perception of the name Upper Peninsula, which may or may not see too vague to some folks. As far as the City Paper is concerned, it will be difficult to think of this area as anything other than NoMo. We reached out to former arts editor Erica Jackson Curran, to ask about the origin of the name NoMo. According to Curran, she and her husband, Todd, still argue about who actually came up with the name, but they do agree that it came out of a visit to Charlotte’s North Davidson (NoDa) district, which of course is inspired by so many similarly named districts in other cities (San Francisco’s SoMa, New York’s SoHo). Apparently, NoDa reminded the two of the neighborhood around the City Paper offices in Morrison Drive. While the area was a lot less developed at the time, Curran says that NoMo came together naturally in conversation.

“I actually remember using it for the first time in the paper, maybe in a City Pick or something, and mentioning it somewhat jokingly, like ‘this is what we’ve decided to call our ‘hood, like it or not,’” she recalls. But then Curran says they kept using NoMo, and it steadily became less of a joke. Then it became a matter of principle. Because whatever you decide to name your community, what matters is that the decision belongs to those who call it home, those who work there day in and day out, and those who put back into the area just as much as they receive.