The term "neighborhood"

How do you determine the extent of your “neighborhood”?

Not just the physical proximity, but also the people who you consider to be members of your neighborhood, or “neighbors.”

Is it strictly about demarcations according to distance (i.e., only so many blocks away, or only until such-and-such street)? Or does it have something to do with your interactions with the people (and if so, how)?

If a person from another country moved in next door to you, how would you explain to him or her what is–and what’s not–part of the “neighborhood,” or a “neighbor”?

(Also, generally what kind of place do you live in (urban, rural, population size, etc.)?

Thanks in advance!

DC has pretty well-defined neighborhoods. I can’t confirm this, but they seem to be used in official capacities and you can find detailed maps with exact boundaries. Neighborhoods tend to be fairly small, sometimes as small as a few blocks. My neighborhood is a bit of a shibboleth, as it’s “official” name (which is used by the generally well-off old timers) is different than the common name that most people would tend to use.

My particular neighborhood is a narrow strip between a major street and a large park. It’s bounded on one end by a major cross-street and on the other by a metro station. It’s pretty clear when you reach the bounderies.

In suburbia I’ve always considered “tract”, “housing development” and “neighborhood” to be synonymous. IOW, one batch of houses built by one developer in one short time period.

Two or more adjacent tracts might be part of the same “part of town”, but that’s a different level of subdivision of the city.

I consider my neighborhood to end at the point where I cannot name at least one person in half the houses. For me its two blocks of my street basically an a short “L” off that for a block.

Hmm… Kind of hard to do.

I only have one full time neighbor. But the area is known as Placer Valley. It’s… a valley. Two 14,000 peaks border it on the west. A state highway on the east. The highway goes over the continental divide. Roughly 8 square miles. Much of it undevelopable.

My neighborhood though is I guess the houses within 1/2 mile. Five houses including mine and the one other full time neighbor. In summer, I could bushwhack and include a few more houses.

When asked where I live by a local, I say ‘Placer Valley’ but include 1/4 mile from the top of the pass.

So then that could be what, up to half a mile? And you have a lot of neighbors that you don’t know?

Another Washingtonian checking in, DC has very distinct neighborhoods. The head of DC’s libraries came from NYC and said in an interview that she was surprised how neighborhood-centric DC politics was and that people would go to the library in ‘their’ neighborhood even if there was a DC library in an adjacent neighborhood that was closer. My neighbors and I will talk about the next neighborhood over like its a different city “they’re crazy over there.”

There is a push to give old DC neighborhoods new generic and trendy names that I find really gross and vaguely racist. Here’s the wiki article on DC neighborhoods,_D.C.

To me, my neighborhood consists of the 3 streets of this development. As far as neighbors, I know the young guy next door is named Ben and he works for the electric co-op. The guy in the back is a flake who used to work in “law enforcement” - I’m guessing he was a mall guard or some such. I haven’t interacted with him since he warned me about “those illegal aliens - those Puerto Ricans living next to you.” Life is too short to deal with old bigots.

Honestly, I don’t know anyone else who lives around here. For the first 7 years or so after moving here, I worked full time. I’d exchange waves and greetings with neighbors walking past when I was working outside. The houses are spread pretty far apart - most of our lots are 3 acres or more - and there’s no HOA (YAY!) so there are no organized activities for meeting folks. I’m not anti-social, but I’m not going to go door-to-door trying to make friends. So, I can’t define it by people I know. Kinda pathetic, I know…

We live in a rural area outside of a small town. Our house is the 3rd/last home on a private gravel lane. I consider our home and the two near-ish homes our neighborhood. We all get along and happily lend a hand when needed. When the lane needs a load of gravel, we divide the cost amicably.

Where is this?

I live in Forest Hills, which is fine, but 90% of people think of the area as “Van Ness.”

My “neighbourhood” is everything between me and the nearest Spar. It’s functionally defined as the area we cover when trick-or-treating or having street parties.

My “neighbours” are those people living in the properties that immediately abut mine, and the ones next to them along my street but not next to my neighbours on the diagonals or behind me.

If you don’t live here & have no purpose being here, then you shouldn’t be here.

Where I used to live, longer ago than seems possible, I knew several people as far away as a few blocks, but didn’t really know the “neighbors” all that well. Where I live now, I know one or two on the block and none on surrounding streets.

All the same, I consider my "neighborhood’ to be the square mile or two that’s bordered by some main roads. It’s not a subdivision, per se, but the houses are all the same general age and approximate value.

In common parlance, “area” or “section” is probably more accurate a name than “neighborhood.” But “neighborhood” is probably the name most people around here would use. In much the same way that “friends and neighbors” (as a term) is more common in these parts than “ladies and gentlemen” the idea of “neighborhood” is just a sort of friendly way of saying, “the part of town where I live.”

Needless to say, YMMV. :slight_smile:

I live in the suburbs and have lived in this development my whole life (I purchased a home here). There’s nothing spectacular about our development - houses are all ranches from the 60s and we don’t have a little park or a pool or a corner store - but several other kids who grew up here have also purchased homes here. And some families have had 3 generations here, that I know of.

I don’t necessarily know all of my neighbors. Of the 70 houses here I could identify people from about 40 of them. I’m sure people know who I am, though, as I am always walking my dogs and am very unique-looking.

In my city we’ve got 5 main neighborhoods/developments, separated by highways or commercial areas. It’s pretty easy to tell what a neighborhood is. I believe mine is the smallest neighborhood - it’s just 4 streets that form a loop. I like our isolation, and our feeling of neighborliness.

In my book, “neighborhood” is a geographical term. It has nothing to do with people.

My last suburban neighborhood/tract was McMansions on 1/4-1/2 acre each. The development contained about 50 houses. I lived there 10 years. Over that time I conversed at least once with the people who lived in 7 of them. I never set foot in 5 of their 7 houses, nor they in mine. And one neighbor was a long-time friend & co-worker which is how I found the neighborhood to buy into. So over a decade I really only ever met 6 neighbors and only ever entered one of their houses. And they were the folks immediately next door.

I was a little less social than most of them seemed to be with each other. But not much. It was a pretty insular group. Everybody would wave as they passed each other in their cars & we all got good at recognizing each other’s cars & dogs. That was about as much interaction as anyone had with anyone else. Nobody spent much time outdoors and only a few families still had teenagers at home. Most were 50-something executives or recently retired former executives. Almost regardless of time of day you could drive the length of the tract without seeing a soul other than a hired gardener or handyman.

I’m not Madmonk28, but I’ve seen a few rebrandings. Truxton Circle as opposed to Shaw. The carve out of NoMa (I’ve always hated that name) from Near Northeast. Another one is the carve out of the Atlas District (H Street NE) from Near Northeast. None of these are really official neighborhood names though. DC has Old City I and Old City II which I’ve never heard anyone use.

I remember some people in my old neighborhood saying they lived in Capitol Hill North instead of Near Northeast or Trinidad. I don’t think of it as a racial thing so much as a prestige and money (Capitol Hill North rents out for more than Trinidad) thing.

NOMA is probably the most well known:

Also, I said vaguely racist, showing up in a community and renaming it is pretty tacky.

I grew up in Baltimore, MD, which has pretty well-defined neighborhoods. The one I grew up in was called Gardenville, in the northeast part of the city.

It originated as a farming village. H.L. Mencken, describing an early reporting job he was sent on, probably just before 1900, referred to it as “a God-forsaken burg three miles beyond the last street light”.

In more modern times, it is a neighborhood of rowhouses and single homes that is about one square mile. Within that, things got a lot more parochial. What I considered my neighborhood was about 2 blocks by 8 blocks. I didn’t know the majority of people at the outer edges of that area, but on every block I knew someone.

I have to disagree with you on NoMa being racist. I think that as branding goes, it is incredibly stupid since anyone who lives near Union Station isn’t going to claim they live in NoMa as opposed to Capitol Hill or off of H Street. The only part where the name stuck is that part north of H (or really K Street) where all the new development is.

Chicago has well-defined neighborhoods as well (although new ones are added as areas are gentrified or otherwise developed). That said, I use the term more loosely than what the map says. If someone asks what neighborhood I live in, I give the actual name (Archer Heightss) but, depending on context, “the neighborhood” can be geographically smaller (like down to the parish or even the half square mile between major street boundaries) or bigger, to encompass more of the Southwest Side. “Midway neighborhood” being one geographic shorthand.