The Rebranding Of London
Estate agents have long been trying to foist New York names onto London properties, in the hope that people will pay more for a small box if it’s called a Manhattan Loft.
Possibly the most stupid new wave of branding began when in 2008, the Candy Brothers were criticised by angry Fitzrovia residents for rebranding the area as Noho. The creepy Candys named an apartment building they were developing Noho – supposedly meaning north of Soho. In New York, Noho works because it’s NOrth of HOuston Street. Noho in London would have made no sense – NOrth of SOho? So why not Noso? (Let’s not even ask ourselves why they would have wanted to build something that looked like a silver balloon on the site of the rugged Victorian Middlesex Hospital, now sadly demolished.)
The Candys, who seem to specialise in vulgarizing London neighbourhoods, pulled out of the redevelopment and the name was dropped. But elsewhere, estate agents tried to rename Aldgate and Hoxton in east London CitySide, and Elephant & Castle in south London South City.
But wait! Here comes the dumbest idea of all – someone is trying to rename Bloomsbury, where writers, intellectuals and artists congregated throughout the 20th Century. The home to the British Museum, celebrated for its cultural history, is to be called Midtown.
The term has been used by estate agents and hotels seeking US dollars. But if you’ve left the Tube at Holborn station in recent weeks, you may have been greeted by men in orange jackets, handing out maps and calling themselves “inmidtown rangers”. Walk in any direction and you may have noticed lamp posts clad with flags boldly stating “inmidtown”.
This is the work of local business interest group Inmidtown, run by Tass Mavrogordato, which hopes to raise the profile of what I guess he just sees as the bit between the City of London and the West End. Tass Mavrogordato – actually let’s rename her Betty, it’s easier for people to understand – says people don’t understand where Bloomsbury is. I guess Virginia Woolf was a member of the Midtown Group.
Residents and workers point out that it’s the estate agents and people like Joe who can’t be arsed to learn the parts of London.