This afternoon a client said that she’d need a ride to Woodland Park.
I didn’t know where the hell she was talking about and started getting a little nervous, thinking she was asking me to drive her to somewhere way up the Parkway and then I’d get stuck in massive holiday weekend traffic on the way back.
Then I figured it out … oh, okay, Woodland Park … WEST PATERSON!
West Paterson was one of the towns I grew up in and the name was changed to Woodland Park in 2009 because the residents wanted to disassociate themselves with the city of Paterson which was significantly poorer and had a higher crime rate.
I felt this was extremely pretentious and even though I haven’t lived in West Paterson since I was a kid, I was very upset with the name change. West Paterson was the name of the town since May 1, 1914.
But New Jersey is no stranger to name changes. East Paterson, incorporated in 1916, changed it’s name to Elmwood Park in 1973 for the same reasons in hopes that property values would go up and not be confused with Paterson to outsiders.
On the flip side of the coin, Paterson residents felt the name changes were racist and discriminating and have cleverly suggested changing Paterson’s name to East Woodland Park or West Elmwood Park!
My client, who is originally a New Yorker, said that New York would never change the names of their boroughs. That is such a good point. Brooklyn was named back in 1634 and the name came from Breukelen, Netherlands. And I highly doubt any Brooklynites would ever want to change the name Brooklyn to something else. That’s a tight sense of community that you can’t help but admire.
Anyway, it’s been three years since the official name change, but to me it will always be “West Paterson” and that’s how I’ll refer to it!