Did you know that New York City’s website hosts vital statistics reports (PDFs) going all the way back to the 1960s? And that, from 1991 onward, these annual reports include baby name rankings for NYC?
I don’t want you to have to comb through a whole bunch of PDFs to find the city’s historical top-ten lists, though, so I gathered all the lists into a single blog post.
The name tables in the reports also incorporate several older sets rankings (from 1990, 1985, 1980, 1948, 1928, and 1898 specifically) for comparison, and those are here well — just scroll to the bottom.
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2019. (Here’s my post about the 2019 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2019)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2019)
1. Emma 2. Olivia 3. Sophia 4. Mia 5. Isabella 6. Leah 7. Ava 8. Chloe 9. Amelia 10. Charlotte
1. Liam 2. Noah 3. Ethan 4. Jacob 5. Lucas 6. Aiden 7. Daniel 8. Michael 9. David 10. Matthew
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2018. (Here’s my post about the 2018 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2018)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2018)
1. Emma 2. Isabella 3. Sophia 4. Mia 5. Olivia 6. Ava 7. Leah 8. Sarah 9. Amelia 10. Chloe
1. Liam 2. Noah 3. Ethan 4. Jacob 5. Aiden 6. David 7. Lucas 8. Matthew 9. Daniel 10. Alexander
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2017. (Here’s my post about the 2017 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2017)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2017)
1. Emma 2. Olivia 3. Mia 4. Sophia 5. Isabella 6. Ava 7. Leah 8. Emily 9. Sarah 10. Abigail
1. Liam 2. Noah 3. Jacob 4. Ethan 5. David 6. Lucas 7. Matthew 8. Jayden 9. Aiden 10. Daniel
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2016. (Here’s my post about the 2016 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2016)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2016)
1. Olivia 2. Sophia 3. Emma 4. Isabella 5. Mia 6. Ava 7. Emily 8. Leah 9. Sarah 10. Madison
1. Liam 2. Jacob 3. Ethan 4. Noah 5. Aiden 6. Matthew 7. Daniel 8. Lucas 9. Michael 10. Dylan
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2015. (Here’s my post about the 2015 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2015)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2015)
1. Olivia 2. Sophia 3. Emma (tie) 4. Mia (tie) 5. Isabella 6. Leah 7. Emily 8. Ava 9. Chloe 10. Madison
1. Ethan 2. Liam 3. Noah 4. Jacob 5. Jayden 6. Matthew 7. David 8. Daniel (tie) 9. Dylan (tie) 10. Aiden
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2014. (Here’s my post about the 2014 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2014)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2014)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Olivia 4. Mia 5. Emma 6. Emily 7. Leah 8. Ava 9. Sofia 10. Chloe
1. Ethan 2. Jacob 3. Liam 4. Jayden 5. Noah 6. Daniel 7. Michael 8. Alexander 9. David 10. Matthew
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2013.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2013)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2013)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Emma 4. Olivia 5. Mia 6. Emily 7. Leah 8. Sofia 9. Madison 10. Chloe
1. Jayden 2. Ethan 3. Jacob 4. Daniel 5. David 6. Noah 7. Michael 8. Matthew 9. Alexander 10. Liam
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2012.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2012)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2012)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Emma 4. Olivia 5. Emily 6. Mia 7. Chloe 8. Madison 9. Leah 10. Ava
1. Jayden 2. Ethan 3. Jacob 4. Daniel 5. Matthew 6. Michael 7. Aiden 8. David 9. Ryan 10. Alexander
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2011. (Here’s my post about the 2011 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2011)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2011)
1. Isabella 2. Sophia 3. Olivia 4. Emma 5. Mia 6. Emily 7. Madison 8. Leah 9. Chloe 10. Sofia
1. Jayden 2. Jacob 3. Ethan 4. Daniel 5. Michael 6. Matthew 7. Justin 8. David 9. Aiden 10. Alexander
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2010.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2010)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2010)
1. Isabella 2. Sophia 3. Olivia 4. Emily 5. Madison 6. Mia 7. Emma 8. Leah 9. Sarah 10. Chloe
1. Jayden 2. Ethan 3. Daniel 4. Jacob 5. David 6. Justin 7. Michael 8. Matthew 9. Joseph 10. Joshua
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2009.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2009)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2009)
1. Isabella 2. Sophia 3. Mia 4. Emily 5. Olivia 6. Madison 7. Sarah 8. Ashley 9. Leah 10. Emma
1. Jayden 2. Daniel 3. Ethan 4. Michael 5. David 6. Justin 7. Matthew 8. Joshua 9. Alexander 10. Christopher
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2008.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2008)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2008)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Emily 4. Olivia 5. Sarah 6. Madison 7. Ashley 8. Mia 9. Samantha 10. Emma
1. Jayden 2. Daniel 3. Michael 4. Matthew 5. David 6. Joshua 7. Justin 8. Anthony 9. Christopher 10. Ethan/Ryan (tied for 10th)
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2007. (Here’s my post about the 2007 NYC rankings.)
I want to draw your attention to two of these contestants, Safira Afzaal and Yarden Levinson, because the rare names Safira and Yarden both debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1984 specifically:
Girls named Safira
Girls named Yarden
(Safira may be based on the Arabic name Safeerah, meaning “messenger”; Yarden, the Hebrew name of the Jordan River, is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “descend” or “flow down.”)
Here are Safira and Yarden introducing themselves at the start of the program…
Over the course of the two-hour program, the field of contestants was reduced three times: from 21 to 10 (by a panel of judges), from 10 to 3 (again by the judges), and finally from 3 to 1 (by popular vote).
Both Safira and Yarden survived the first cut. The second portion of the show featured the ten remaining women modeling in swimsuits, modeling in evening gowns, and, rather unusually, doing aerobic exercise. (How ’80s is that?)
Here’s Safira doing aerobics:
And here’s Yarden:
Before the three finalists were announced, David Hasselhoff explained that each of the three would be assigned a specific “1-900” phone number.
To cast a vote for your favorite girl, you simply dial her phone number. It’s that easy. Your vote will automatically be registered in the phone company’s computer in Kansas City, Missouri, and there’ll be a telephone charge of 50 cents. The total number of calls received at the end of the ten-minute period by the phone company’s computer in Kansas City will be transmitted to us, five thousand miles away, in Hawaii, and we will know our winner.
The three finalists? Debi, Jaqueline, and Yarden. (Not Safira, sadly.)
Here’s Yarden, right after being named a finalist:
During the next ten minutes, viewers saw (among other things) clips of the finalists talking about themselves. Yarden mentioned that, in Israel, every girl goes into the military and “learns how to fight,” and that she “served in a rescue unit in the Air Force.” She also said:
I come to the competition and they look at me and they say, ‘You’re Israeli? You’re blonde, I mean, how can that be?’
Alas, Yarden finished in third place with just 17.48% of the vote.
The winner was Debi Brett, the Brit, with 53.46% of the vote. (She received over $100,000 in cash and prizes, including a 30-day round-the-world trip, a full-length mink coat, a grand piano, a diamond ring, a Dodge 600 convertible, and a Ricoh 35mm camera.)
So, neither Safira nor Yarden won the pageant. But their names live on the U.S. baby name data, which is arguably far cooler. :)
I’m not sure what became of Yarden after the pageant, but I can tell you a bit about Safira (whose last name is actually spelled Afzal). She was born in Pakistan, raised in England, and went on to earn a law degree and become a barrister.
(Other post-pageant careers: Debi became photographer; Antonia became a model/TV personality; Deborah won Miss Universe 1985 and became an actress/TV personality; “Jaqueline” (actually spelled Jacqueline) became a model/TV personality; and “Julie” (Julia) became an actress — in fact, she played the female lead in the second Rambo movie.)
So what are your thoughts on the names Safira and Yarden? Which one would you be more likely to use for a baby girl?
Several months ago, the cast of the inaugural season of MTV’s The Real World held a 6-day reunion in the very same NYC loft they shared back in 1992. The reunion — which was filmed, of course — is now airing as a series on the Paramount+ platform. (Here’s the trailer.)
When I was a teenager, I loved watching The Real World. (And I appreciated that the names of the cast members were always prominently displayed in the opening credits!) So I think now would be a great time to go back and see if any Real World cast member names had an influence on U.S. baby names.
First, let’s start with a comprehensive list of all the cast member names from each of RW‘s 33 (!) seasons…
The Real World: New York (1992): Andre, Becky, Eric, Heather, Julie, Kevin, Norman
The Real World: California (1993): Aaron, Beth (x2), David, Dominic, Glen, Irene, Jon, Tami
The Real World: San Francisco (1994): Cory, Jo, Judd, Mohammed, Pam, Pedro, Puck, Rachel
The Real World: London (1995): Jacinda, Jay, Kat, Lars, Mike, Neil, Sharon
The Real World: Miami (1996): Cynthia, Dan, Flora, Joe, Melissa, Mike, Sarah
The Real World: Boston (1997): Elka, Genesis, Jason, Kameelah, Montana, Sean, Syrus
The Real World: Seattle (1998): David, Irene, Janet, Lindsay, Nathan, Rebecca, Stephen
The Real World: Hawaii (1999): Amaya, Colin, Justin, Kaia, Matt, Ruthie, Teck
The Real World: New Orleans (2000): Danny, David, Jamie, Julie, Kelley, Matt, Melissa
The Real World: Back to New York (2001): Coral, Kevin, Lori, Malik, Mike, Nicole, Rachel
The Real World: Chicago (2002): Aneesa, Cara, Chris, Keri, Kyle, Theo, Tonya
The Real World: Las Vegas (2002-2003): Alton, Arissa, Brynn, Frank, Irulan, Steven, Trishelle
The Real World: Paris (2003): Ace, Adam, Chris, Christina, Leah, Mallory, Simon
The Real World: San Diego (2004): Brad, Cameran, Charlie, Frankie, Jacquese, Jamie, Randy, Robin
The Real World: Philadelphia (2004-2005): Karamo, Landon, Melanie, M.J., Sarah, Shavonda, Willie
The Real World: Austin (2005): Danny, Johanna, Lacey, Melinda, Nehemiah, Rachel, Wes
The Real World: Key West (2006): Janelle, John, Jose, Paula, Svetlana, Tyler, Zach
The Real World: Denver (2006-2007): Alex, Brooke, Colie, Davis, Jenn, Stephen, Tyrie
The Real World: Sydney (2007-2008): Ashli, Cohutta, Dunbar, Isaac, KellyAnne, Parisa, Shauvon, Trisha
The Real World: Hollywood (2008): Brianna, Brittini, Dave, Greg, Joey, Kimberly, Nick, Sarah, Will
The Real World: Brooklyn (2009): Baya, Chet, Devyn, J.D., Katelynn, Ryan, Sarah, Scott
The Real World: Cancun (2009): Ayiiia, Bronne, CJ, Derek, Emilee, Jasmine, Joey, Jonna
The Real World: D.C. (2009-2010): Andrew, Ashley, Callie, Emily, Erika, Josh, Mike, Ty
The Real World: New Orleans (2010): Ashlee, Eric, Jemmye, McKenzie, Preston, Ryan (x2), Sahar
The Real World: Las Vegas (2011): Adam, Dustin, Heather (x2), Leroy, Michael, Nany, Naomi
The Real World: San Diego (2011): Alexandra, Ashley, Frank, Nate, Priscilla, Sam, Zach
The Real World: St. Thomas (2012): Brandon (x2), LaToya, Laura, Marie, Robb, Trey
The Real World: Portland (2013): Anastasia, Averey, Jessica, Johnny, Joi, Jordan, Marlon, Nia
Real World: Ex-Plosion (2014): Arielle, Ashley (x2), Brian, Cory, Hailey, Jamie, Jay, Jenna, Jenny, Lauren, Thomas
Real World: Go Big or Go Home (2016): CeeJai, Chris, Dean, Dione, Dylan, Jenna, Kailah, Sabrina
Real World Seattle: Bad Blood (2016-2017): Anika, Anna, Jennifer, Jordan, Kassius, Katrina, Kimberly, Mike, Orlana, Peter, Robbie, Theo, Tyara, Will
The Real World: Atlanta (2019): Arely, Clint, Dondre, Justin, Meagan, Tovah, Yasmin
The names in boldface line up with a discernible increase in baby name usage. (Other Real World names may have affected baby names as well, but it can be hard to tell when, say, a name is already common, or already on the rise.)
Here are details on all the boldfaced names, plus two more influential RW names (from seasons 6 and 18) that didn’t even belong to primary cast members.
The name Jacinda (from season 4; 1995) saw peak usage in 1996.
The name Flora (5; 1996) saw increased usage in 1997.
The name Kameelah (6; 1997) saw increased usage in 1998.
The name Syrus (6; 1997) saw increased usage in 1997.
The name Jason (6; 1997) was probably not affected, but the name of Jason’s girlfriend, Timber, saw increased usage in 1998.
The name Amaya (8; 1999) saw sharply increased usage in 1999 and 2000.
The name Kaia (8; 1999) saw increased usage in 1999.
The name Ruthie (8; 1999) saw increased usage in 1999.
The name Aneesa (11; 2002) saw peak usage in 2002.
The name Arissa (12; 2002-3) saw peak usage in 2003.
The name Brynn (12; 2002-3) saw sharply increased usage in 2003.
The name Irulan (12; 2002-3) debuted in the data in 2003.
It looks like she was named after the fictional character Princess Irulan from Frank Herbert’s Dune books…?
The name Trishelle (12; 2002-3) saw peak usage in 2004.
The name Mallory (13; 2003) saw increased usage in 2003 and 2004.
The name Cameran (14; 2004) saw peak usage in 2004.
The name Jacquese (14; 2004) both returned to the data and saw peak usage in 2004.
The name Johanna (16; 2005) saw increased usage in 2005.
The name Nehemiah (16; 2005) saw increased usage in 2005 and 2006.
The name Janelle (17; 2006) saw increased usage in 2006.
The name Svetlana (17; 2006) saw peak usage in 2007.
The name Colie (18; 2006-7) both returned to the data and saw peak usage in 2007.
The name Tyrie (18; 2006-7) saw peak usage in 2007.
My wife and I got to take our baby boy named Kenai (named after Kenai Fjords National Park) on his first National Park trip to Rocky Mountain National Park just right before the fires. This was a special trip for us seeing that this would make his first adventure before the many to come.
(The baby name Kenai has become increasingly popular recently. I don’t know what year this particular baby was born, but over 10% of the Kenais born in 2019 were also from Texas.)
Republican senator David Perdue intentionally mispronouncing the name of Democratic senator Kamala Harris at a Trump rally in October of 2020:
KAH-mah-lah? Kah-MAH-lah? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever.
(Since then, Kamala has become vice president, and David has been voted out of office.)
When St. Louisans Alyssa and Dan Hoven call out the name of their 3-year-old son in public, the heads around them instinctively turn.
“Oh my God yeah, so many times,” Alyssa said. “If we’re out to eat, we’ll be like, ‘Vladi’ or ‘Vlad,’ and people are like, ‘Did you name him after Vladimir Tarasenko?’ It starts a ton of conversations, and when we tell them ‘Yes, we did,’ they get all excited and scream, ‘Let’s go Blues!'”
Some parents-to-be have been so distracted by the pandemic that they’ve skipped the deliberation and quickly picked a name. Amanda Austin of Erie, Pa., owner of an e-commerce store specializing in dollhouse miniatures, came up with her daughter’s name on a whim. “It was in March, when the whole world was shutting down,” she said. “Covid terrified me. My husband and his dad own a construction company and Pennsylvania had banned construction work.”
The name “Annette” popped suddenly into her mind. “I shared it with my husband and he loved it,” Austin said. “His reaction is a far cry from my other daughter’s naming process, where we went back and forth for months. I think we had so much going on with the pandemic that we didn’t have the mental bandwidth to dig deeper.” The name also reminded the couple of the 1950s, a “less complicated” time.
While old-fashioned names carry a certain weight and history to them…it could also be that many of us are merely influenced by COVID-19 and life under lockdown.
“Our research showed that 52 per cent of Australians spent more time with their household members and listed this as a positive of social isolation,” says [Ashley Fell of McCrindle Research] who adds we’re more likely to be naming our children after our grandparents or asking for their input before making it official.
(I also appreciated the author’s opening line: “When you have a name like Dilvin, you spend an awful amount of time thinking about baby names and the role our monikers play in our lives.”)