Naming sections of a city can have a huge impact on how those cities evolve. Who can imagine New York without Soho, New Orleans without the French Quarter, or San Francisco without the Castro. Of course, these neighborhoods are more than their monikers, but having a name adds a lot to their distinct identities. This article further discusses the importance, and difficulty, of naming a neighborhood.
Provo has a surprisingly rich culture of neighborhood names — I live in south Joaquin, for example — but the process of assigning designations is far from static. Case in point, Provo’s music district has acquired the name “100 Block,” which more or less includes University Ave between 100 North and 200 North.
Though people who don’t frequent music and arts events may not have heard the name, I’ve been fascinated to watch it seemingly spring into existence and become fairly widespread and accepted. Today, though it isn’t officially sanctioned by the city, the name is widely understood and used by people who frequent the area.
For this post, I did a little investigative journalism to try to find out where the name originated. Via Velour manager Kaneisha Johnson and musician (and “100 Block mayor”) Chance Clift, I ended up at hip hop musician Adam Hochhalter, who is also known by his stage name Apt.
When I asked Adam about the name, he said he probably started using it sometime in 2009 as a kind of joke. He’d heard people refer to the area around Muse Music and Velour by a few different names, and since he was always in the area he came up with the “100 Block” as a more distinctive title.
At first, Adam told me, the name was only really used by a few people, including himself, Chance, and Tyler Glenn (of Neon Trees). It remained kind of a joke and spawned a short-lived, tongue-in-check blog, but started to grow when they started using it more aggressively — especially on Facebook and Twitter. Chance told me a similar story, saying that he felt like it made a better hashtag than something more “vanilla” like #provomusic.
Adam characterized the name as having grown from a simple location reference into something bigger now, and I absolutely agree. It frequently pops up on Twitter, and people like me use it without (previously) even knowing where it came from. The name also is used by the wonderful 100 Block Podcast, and generally is part of Provo’s increasingly fascinating urban fabric. In other words, the name has stuck.
The 100 Block continues to be a vibrant part of Provo — perhaps the most vibrant part. There are concerts, art shows and other things going on in that area all the time, but this weekend Apt himself is actually releasing his debut EP. The show will be a rare opportunity to both experience a great, recently named part of the city while also meeting the people who coined and promulgated that name. And while you’re there, tweet something with the #100Block hashtag.