April 19, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

Brooklyn. The name evokes images of working-class New York. When Hollywood wants a no-nonsense, urban guy, they give us a cab driver with a “Brooklyn accent.” (Oddly, this is true even of movies set in Chicago or Los Angeles.) Brooklyn is the Dodgers, dem Bums.

Why then are people naming their daughters Brooklyn?

In Utah of all places, it has become one of the top ten names for girls, passing Ashley and Alyssa, and separated from Madison by only 17 little Utahennes. Nationwide Brooklyn was last seen in 67th place. That’s far behind Emily, of course, but until 1990 Brooklyn wasn’t even in the top 1000.

I have no explanation. Did some celebrities name their kid Brooklyn while I was out of the room? Well, yes, it turns out – a footballer and a Spice Girl. But that was in 1999, when the name had already climbed into the top 200.

Was Brooklyn a character in a movie? (The best explanation for the Madison boom is Splash. The movie came out in 1984; the name started taking off in the early 90s, when girls who had seen it as teenagers started having babies.)

There certainly seems to be something geographic going on. The places where Brooklyn has become popular – states like Utah and Idaho – are far from New York. As for parents in Canarsie, or Flatbush, or even within a few hours drive of the real Brooklyn, naming their kid Brooklyn, well, as the sign says . . . .

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