Maybe it’s the ultimate sign that New York City’s up-and-coming borough has finally arrived. Brooklyn is now one of the nation’s most popular baby names.
Over the past two decades, Brooklyn as a name for girls has surged from No. 912 to the top 30 in each of the last three years. Some credit soccer star David Beckham and his wife, Victoria, for naming their son Brooklyn. Some cite model and actress Brooklyn Decker. Others point to “Girls” and the many other TV shows and movies that tap into the borough’s gritty, cool vibe.
But one thing is clear: Of the 41 states where Brooklyn is now the most popular girl’s name beginning with B, New York is not among them. Real Brooklynites say naming your child Brooklyn is strictly for out-of towners.
“It’s almost like a magical place far away that doesn’t exist to them,” says parent Heath Farnsworth-Williams. “For us, Brooklyn is home, and we’d have a hard time trying to make the identity of our home coexist with the identity of our child.”
More than 6,600 girls born in the U.S. in 2013 were named Brooklyn, making it the 28th most popular girls name ahead of stalwarts Samantha, Allison and Sarah, according to recently released Social Security Administration data.
Brooklyn beat out such place names as Savannah (No. 37) and London (No. 85), but trailed Madison (No. 9) and Charlotte (No. 11). Brooklyn as a boy’s name is still rare, having never cracked the top 1,000.
“People want more creativity, many for the better, some for the worse,” says Pamela Redmond Satran, co-founder of the baby naming website Nameberry.com, who notes Brooklyn is often favored as a unique-sounding mashup of the more conventional Brooke and Lynne.
Brooklyn Presta says her parents in Kansas were thinking unique, not New York, when they named her. Now 26 and living in Brooklyn, Presta says she often gets questions about whether she changed her name to fit her chosen borough.
“It’s kind of crazy to be Brooklyn in Brooklyn,” Presta says.
The popularity of the Brooklyn name parallels the renaissance of the borough of 2.6 million, with the gentrification of its leafy brownstone neighborhoods, a thriving arts scene and the return of big-league sports with the Brooklyn Nets.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, seeking to capitalize on that spirit of cool, pitched Brooklyn – not Manhattan – as potential host for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
“There’s no greater way to show admiration for a borough than to name your child after it,” says Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “You don’t see too many people calling their children Manhattan or the Bronx.”
Kimberly and Brock Tite of Marion, Illinois, are that rare exception.
Even though they’ve never visited New York and know it only through TV and rap lyrics, they named their 3-year-old daughter Brooklyn and 1-year-old son Bronx.
“I knew I wanted to name my kids after New York,” Kimberly Tite says. “I love New York.”