My husband and I found ourselves in New Orleans again recently, but only for a matter of hours, so we weren’t able to have as many adventures as last time. While taking a Lyft through an uptown area of the city, though, I did spot an intriguing street name: Prytania.
Had any NOLA residents ever been named Prytania? I did some research, but couldn’t find any. In fact, the only Prytania I managed to track down was a 12-year-old Texas girl named Prytania Chambers on the 1880 U.S. Census:
The street itself has an interesting name-story, though.
Not long after the sale of New Orleans to the United States in 1803 — part of the massive Louisiana Purchase* — some residents of the city devised an ambitious plan to construct a Roman-style collesée (colisseum) that would host public games and assemblies. It was never built, but the name lives in “Coliseum Street” and ” Coliseum Square.”
Similarly, these residents also wanted to establish a prytanée — a sort of people’s university — based on like-named schools in France. The French schools had been named after the ancient Greek prytaneum, or town hall. The university was going to be located on what was originally called the Rue des Prytanées. But, like the coliseum, the school was never built, and the street name eventually evoled to become “Prytania.”
The first syllable of prytaneum is based on the ancient Greek word pur, meaning “fire.” Ancient Greek prytaneums were dedicated to Hestia, goddess of the hearth, and within each one a perpetual fire was kept burning.
Coliseum and Prytania Streets run parallel to one another, and, in the area where the collesée and the prytanée were going to be built, the cross streets are named after the nine Greek muses: Urania, Thalia, Euterpe, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Melpomene, Terpsichore, and Polyhymnia. (Here’s a WGNO video about the pronunciations of several of these muse/road names.)
What are your thoughts on “Prytania” as a potential baby name? Usable?
New Orleans dogs are often the namesakes of the cuisine (Gumbo, Roux, Beignet, Po-Boy, Boudin); the Saints (Brees, Payton, Deuce); music (Toussaint, Jazz, Satchmo); streets (Clio, Tchoupitoulas, Calliope); neighborhoods (Pearl, Touro, Gert) and Mardi Gras krewes (Zulu, Rex, Bacchus).
At any given moment, the trucks are working away to keep Scotland’s roads safe, with their progress available for all to see on an online map [the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker], which updates in real time. But a closer look at this map, with its jaunty yellow vehicles, reveals something still more charming: An awful lot of these salt trucks have very, very good names. Gritty Gritty Bang Bang is putting in the hard yards near Aberuthven. Dynamic duo Ice Buster and Ice Destroyer are making themselves useful near Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Three trucks apparently hold knighthoods–Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Grits-a-Lot. At least two (Ice Queen and Mrs. McGritter) are female. Every one is excellent.
(Some of the other gritter names are: For Your Ice Only, Grits-n-Pieces, Grittalica, Grittie McVittie, Luke Snowalker, Plougher O’ Scotland, Ready Spready Go, Salty Tom, and Sprinkles.)
No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the US is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon.
The miniseries first ran on Australian television in October 1983 and was later broadcast on the American channel HBO in January 1984.
(Indeed, the name Brenton saw peak usage in the U.S. in 1984, and the name Philadelphia debuted the same year.)
Once upon a time the list of top 100 names in a year used to capture nearly 90 per cent of the boys born, and three-quarters of girls. Now it’s less than half of either gender.
The reason is an explosion in variety, with multiculturalism and parents’ desire for individuality seeing the pool of baby names grow from 4252 in 1957 to 16,676 today. That’s 300% more names for only 30% more babies being born.
Professor Jo Lindsay from Monash University has researched naming practices in Australia and said parents today had more freedom and fewer family expectations than previous generations.
They were, in order, Cretta in 1910, Leland in 1912, Rosa in 1913, Woodrow in 1916, Wilmar in 1918, Joseph in 1919, Dorothy in 1921 and Virginia in 1923.
The second wave included Irving in 1924, Blanche in 1925, C.D. in 1927, Geraldine in 1928, Marverine in 1930, Billy in 1932, Tom in 1934 and Gene in 1938.
Gene Autry Sullivan, the youngest of the children and the one who organizes the reunion each year, said he was told he was named after legendary cowboy movie star Gene Autry “because his parents had run out of names by then.”
(The post about Sierra includes a photo of Gene Autry.)
Recently I was asked to give a talk to students at a mostly white school. I’d been in back-and-forth email contact with one of the teachers for ages. My full name, Bilal Harry Khan, comes up in email communication. I’d signed off all our emails as Bilal and introduced myself to him that way too. He had been addressing me as Bilal in these emails the entire time. But as he got up to introduce me to a whole assembly hall of teachers and students, he suddenly said, “Everyone, this is Harry.”
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).