Monday, June 10, 2013

New Jersey M-Z

As I mentioned last week, New Jersey has a lot of funny town names for a state of pretty middling size.  What do I attribute it to?  Indians!  They’re not something I usually associate New Jersey with, but there you go.  Read on!

10. Rudeville

How fitting that this place is in Joisey. 

It actually comes from the Rude family, early settlers of the area.  And that surname may have an English, French (very fitting as well), Scandinavian, or German origin.  I guess there are just a lot of rude people in the world.

This T in the road is in the northern part of the state.  I’m seeing some farmhouses and McMansions on Google Maps. 

By the way, it’s famous for its fluoroborite, a rare mineral that gemologist types get all hot and bothered about.

Some of that famous fluoroborite

9. Plumbsock

“Plumb” I understand.  “Sock” I understand.  Of course, I’m not sure I’d put either of them in a town name ...  But together?  Fuggedaboutit!

Haven’t a clue where this one comes from.  I’m guessing something Native American though.

We’re in the north again, near the very appropriately named Beemerville.  This one is just a bend in the road, with what looks like a junk yard as its sole habitation.  Oh, excuse me …  It’s actually a farm.  What a dump!

8. Teaneck

Tea Party redneck?

Once again, “tea’s” okay, I guess.  As is “neck.”  But “Teaneck”?  C’mon!

This is probably a combination of Dutch and English, with tene being the Dutch word for “willow,“ and “neck” just an old-timey English word for a peninsula.. 

This one’s across the Hudson from NYC.  In fact, it’s right next to Hackensack.  Teaneck is a very diverse city of 40,000, with a large (esp. Orthodox) Jewish presence.

7. Whippany

When a problem comes along / You must whip it / Before the cream sets out too long / You must whip it /  When something's goin' wrong / You must whip it

Whippany is actually an American Indian word, and means “place of the willows” (which were typically used for arrows).  Early on, the town was called Whipponong and Whippanong.

It’s in the north center part of the state, and looks very suburban.  It’s home to the Ukranian American Cultural Center of New Jersey, and includes the following “famous” native sons (thanks, Wikipedia author!):
  • Adlan Amagov, Strikeforce fighter
  • Sal Canzonieri, guitarist and founding member of the band Electric Frankenstein
  • Dan Frischman, character actor, noted for his many roles of playing socially inept "geeks" and "nerds"

“Single Women in Whippany, NJ”

6. Perth Amboy

Perth I can take.  Heck, it’s a city in Australia, right?  And I could even do Amboy, though it’s not anything I’ve ever heard before.  But Perth Amboy?  No friggin way!

The “Perth” comes from the Earl of Perth, some Colonial dude.  And “Amboy” comes from the Lenape ompage, which means "standing,” or “upright.”

This city of 51,000 is at the head of Raritan Bay.  They call it “The City by the Bay” … though I think I may have heard that used somewhere else before.  I dunno.

PA dates back to 1668, and was once the capital of New Jersey.  In more recent times, it distinguished itself by being the birthplace of Jon Bon Jovi.

Assorted queens and princesses,
General Pulaski Parade,
Perth Amboy, NJ

5. Penny Pot

There are a plethora of possibilities for this one:
  • From the name of a Colonial tavern
  • From the Dutch word paanpacht, meaning either "low, soft land" or "leased land."
  • From the Indian name penipach ghihillen, meaning "falling off," referring to the falls on a creek
PP is in the south center of NJ.  It looks like we’ve got lots of pine trees, a couple of intersections, a couple of restaurants, a little park, and not much more.

I wonder if they possess any potties,
at Penny Pot Park?

4. Pisacataway

A profusion of plethoras (all from Native American languages):
  • Branch of a tidal river
  • Place of dark night
  • Great deer
  • Place of the minivans (okay, I made that last one up)
This city of 56,000 is just a little west of Perth Amboy.  It came in 57th in CNN’s  best places to live. 

Interestingly, there is also a Pisacataway, MD.

“That’s me at Johnson Park, Piscataway, NJ”

3. Weehawken

Even more choices:
  • Place of gulls
  • Rocks that look like trees
  • At the end (I did not make this one up)
Weehawken is directly across the Hudson from Midtown Manhattan.  In fact, it’s where the Lincoln Tunnel empties out.  Hoboken, by the way, is just to the south.

The main claim to fame of this city of 12,000 is something that happened here 210 years ago but had an enormous effect on the history of the United States.  I’m talking about the Hamilton-Burr duel, probably the modern-day equivalent of Joe Biden shooting Rush Limbaugh. 

Did I happen to mention the view?

2. Parsipanny

Sounds like a character from a Lemony Snicket novel.  You know, Peter Parsipanny.  Or, even better – Professor Peter Parsipanny.

Well, we’re back with our old friends the Lenni Lenape again.  “Parsipanny” comes from the Lenape for “the place where the river winds through the valley.”  Positively poetic, if you ask me.

Another well-populated (53,000), very oddly named New Jersey town, Parsipanny is in the north central part of the state, just north of Whippany (see above).

Parsipanny comes in 15th on Money magazine’s top places to live.  Take that Piscataway!

Just can’t get enough of that alliteration

1. Manunka Chunk

Sounds like something you might hear from behind the bathroom door of college dormitories all across the USA on any given Saturday night.

It actually means “hill at the boundary.”  MC is in the northwest part of the state, right along the Delaware River.  At one time, it was a large rail center, with a well-known double tunnel (now abandoned).

By the way, there was also once a Mauch Chunk, in Pennsylvania (it means “bear mountain”).  The town changed its name to Jim Thorpe in 1953 – after 135 years as Mauch Chunk.  Interestingly, the town had no previous connection to Thorpe.  The name change all came about through an odd combination of a dead Olympian, an irate widow, and a town saddled with a terrible name and desperate for tourist dollars.  Result: shrine and burial site for Olympian, happy widow, new town name, and raised eyebrows from the rest of the nation.

I ain’t goin’ in there!

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Ocean City, Oceanville, National Park, Thorofare, Yardville (after one John Yard)
  • Just a little out of place – New Brooklyn (from Brooklyn, CN), Yorktown, Rio Grande, Pomona, Newfoundland, Oxford, Normandy Beach, New Lisbon, Malaga, Mantua (actually from an Indian name), Verona, Palermo, Vienna, Stockholm, Petersburg, Sparta, New Egypt, Timbuctoo
  • Numerically oriented – Twin Rivers, Three Bridges
  • Native American mouthfuls – Passaic, Secaucus (“black snake”), Netcong, Mahwah, Manalapan (“edible roots within covered swamp”), Mantoloking (“sand place”), Metedeconk, Succasunna, Wickatunk (“house place”)
  • Miscellaneous mouthfuls – Sergeantsville, Peapack-Gladstone
  • Abnormal nouns – Wall, Tranquility, Pointers
  • Fun to say – Nutley, Tuttles Corner, Teterboro, Tenafly, Waterford Works, Pompton Plains, Zarephath (if you can say it, that is), Pluckemin (after a town in Scotland)
  • Just plain weird – Sea Girt, Neptune City, Mystic Islands, Toms River (probably from William Toms), Vale Homes, Victory Gardens, Maple Shade, Slackwoods, Wildwood*, Washington Crossing, White Horse (from a tavern), Wallpack Corner, West Portal (western end of railroad tunnel), Star Cross, Ship Bottom, Yellow Frame, Red Lion, Red Bank, Town Bank
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Shirley, Norma, Othello
  • Ghost towns (in NJ?) – Martha

* - author has visited

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