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Seaport Innovation District – “What’s in a Name?”


Trendy district suffers from identity crisis

By Brendan Lynch  |   Thursday, August 25, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com
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Undeniably, the Hub’s hottest district can be found along that swath of South Boston between Fort Point Channel and the harbor.

But while Mayor Thomas M. Menino touts the area as Boston’s “Innovation District,” the name stubbornly refuses to stick.

In fact, some folks who work there said yesterday they had never heard the moniker before, despite the mayor’s efforts to promote it.

Chris Stys, 40, who works for software company Omgeo, said he describes his office location as “behind the Children’s Museum.”

The Groveland resident said he’d never heard of the Innovation District, and when pressed, suggested his work location as “The Seaport area, I guess, Fort Point Channel, or by the mudflats, or the parking lots, depending on who you’re talking to.”

Cambridge’s Huaiming Sun, 30, of the nonprofit World Education, also uses several names.

“I personally really like Fort Point,” she said. “But I don’t actually know what Fort Point is, if it’s an actual spot around here or not. It just sounds nicer to me than Seaport.”

Rachel Casey, 34, a health-care architect at TRO Jung Brannen, was another who hadn’t heard of the Innovation District.

“I usually say Waterfront because the ICA is over here,” she said. “The bars are over there, the good hotels are over there. That’s kind of the after-work go-to spot — like, ‘meet me at the Waterfront.’ ”

The booming area suffers from an identity crisis as older and overlapping names — the Seaport District, the South Boston Waterfront, Fort Point and others — compete for supremacy.

An informal poll of workers from the Fort Point Channel to the World Trade Center found “Seaport” to be the most popular name for the district, followed by “Waterfront,” then “Fort Point.” No one even mentioned the Innovation District.

Medford’s Danny Iannaccone, 50, who was hanging banners on Seaport Boulevard for Flag Graphics of Somerville, said: “I know what they mean by Seaport, but I just always went by World Trade Center. Just tradition, probably.”

Ted Acworth, CEO of Artaic, which makes tile mosaics using robots, said the Innovation District name is prevalent in the tech entrepreneur community. Artaic predates the Innovation District and Acworth attended Menino’s fifth inauguration, where the mayor announced the new name.

“People then were like, ‘OK, what does that mean?’ ” Acworth said. “But everyone’s been pleasantly surprised. It’s a totally different place than it was 12 or 24 months ago, when it was the Seaport at best. People would say, ‘Oh, down by the Harpoon Brewery?’ ”

Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce touted the area, saying it has become a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. “Do we hope (the Innovation District name) catches on?” she said. “Ask the 70 businesses and hundreds of employees that have moved there.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1361195

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