PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — What’s in a name? It’s a good question for one Philly neighborhood. We’re talking about the area from Lehigh Avenue in the north to Cecil B. Moore to the south, and from 6th Street to Front.
Some people know the area as Norris Square, others simply call it North Philly. Some people refer to that section as Kensington. One developer wants to name it Stonewall Heights.
“It’s a marketing thing,” says Paul Janaitis.
Janaitis has lived in the area for more than a decade. He also builds homes and owns the Stonewall Construction Company.
He says he simply started calling the area by Stonewall Heights as part of a marketing campaign to get his company’s name out there while removing the stigma of the area.
Some people refer to that section of Philadelphia as Norris Square, named after 18th century Philadelphia slave owner and Mayor Isaac Norris.
“One of the local business owners said, ‘Hey, anything is better than naming it after a slave trader,’” recalls Janaitis.
CBS3 checked with Dr. Lee Arnold, the senior director of library and collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Dr. Arnold says there is no official process or list of Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Throughout history, they change and adapt depending on what is popular at the time. Arnold says the city even distributes maps to tourists with neighborhood names most Philadelphians would not even recognize.
“There is no rule saying I can’t do it. It’s marketing. It’s my company name,” explained Janaitis.
CBS3 spoke with some people who work and live in the community which Janaitis has branded Stonewall Heights. Most had no issue with the new name.
“I think it sounds great and there is not a lot of high-density residential around here and if he creates something (good) than that is not bad,” said Brian Foster, who owns Groundwork, a design and hand-made furniture shop in the area.
Some community groups, however, are opposing the unofficial name.
Janaitis says he meant no harm. He’s already beginning to take down the more than 40 signs he’s posted throughout the area.
“I’m going to take them all down for now. I’m going to run around and take them all down just like I put them all up and we’ll let everyone else decide whether the name is worth considering,” he said.