Stop Trying to Make ‘Midtown Boston’ Happen, Real Estate People

It’s not going to happen.

There’s a troubling trend abrewing among Boston’s real estate community. The Boston Globe‘s Deirdre Fernandes writes that luxe apartments in Downtown Crossing are becoming “exclusive addresses.” Pointing to the 45 Province St., she then drops this piece of knowledge on us (emphasis ours):

… four years later, 45 Province is 90 percent sold at prices that suggest the pent-up aspirations of the neighborhood — which real estate firms market as “Midtown” — to join the roster of Boston’s exclusive neighborhoods may not be so farfetched.

A Google search for “Midtown Boston apartments” confirms this as standard real estate speak for the area, if not exclusively in reference to Downtown Crossing. As First Boston Realty’s website describes it, “In Boston ‘Midtown’ refers to a combination of all the core districts of Boston : The Financial District, Government Center, and Downtown Crossing.”

Does it? People don’t say that in conversation, right? Like outside of the condo selling community? “Meet me in Midtown.” “Oh, I live in Midtown … No, no, not in New York.” We sort of understand where “Midtown” comes from, in the sense that this is the core of Boston’s business activity, a hub for MBTA lines, etc.

But even if this didn’t come off as an embarrassing case of Freudian envy for NYC, it just wouldn’t make geographic sense. Midtown Manhattan is so-named because it is in the middle of the island. It is neither uptown, nor downtown. It is the Goldilocks of New York cross sections. Meanwhile, Boston’s outline is much too amorphous to label a mid-point, and even if we tried, it sure as heck wouldn’t be in Downtown Crossing, which, after all, has the word Downtown in it. (Not that this is descriptive either.) Roxbury maybe? Or elsewhere? As Michael Ratty, who sounded the alarm on this disaster on Twitter, notes:

This isn’t quite as laughable as the several attempts real estate agents have made through the years to label South Boston “SoBo.” That was an effort that inspired us to create this stupid map renaming a bunch of Boston neighborhoods:


We actually prefer “DoToCro” to Midtown. It’s kind of whimsical.

But in the future, you may call downtown crossing “DTX” if you want it to sound hip (or you want your neighborhood to sound like some obscure metal band or extreme sport.) You could try referring to the Ladder District, but we make no promises. If you say you have a $4 million apartment in “Midtown,” you will be directed to the Fung Wah line. Stop trying to make New York neighborhood names happen. Have you met anyone from Boston? They’re not going to happen.

  • Joe Wolvek

    It’s been known as “Midtown” among the real estate community for about 10 years now, so I think you’re just a hair late to the party.

    • Craig Caplan

      It’s too bad that the real estate community is clueless. NO one calls it that. EVER.

      • Joe Wolvek

        A couple of comments, and then I’ll return to Earth, where I have an important meeting. 1. Glad it was such a slow news day that you could run this. 2. I can’t believe everybody’s not outraged about this! 3. Frankly, I wish it was called Downtown because it makes my keywording harder because, yes, nobody except us brokers knows what a “Midtown” is. 4. I LOVE DTX!

  • TumblingDickweed1

    Almost as bad as when someone refers to New York CITY as the Gray Lady (a reference to the New York Times (and no one says Gray Lady in reference to the NYT anymore anyway)). Also – jesus f’ing christ Bostonmag – making fun of new neighborhood names was popular and cute 10 years ago – and you’re making this a front page story on your website?

  • chantelle

    Im a native Bostonian, have lived in 6 of our 21 neighborhoods and am a Realtor. I refuse to use the midtown moniker, its incorrect, unnecessary and an insult to the proud history of our city’s neighborhoods.

  • Renee Engine-Bangger

    “Midtown” If it were to exist) would be the Prudential Center area. Downtown Crossing is “downtown.”