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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Other Words: What's in a Name? A City Called Any Other Name...

There is a divide in Fort Thomas. 

Most people joke about it, but the issue runs deep in the city’s personality and goes back to the beginning of Fort Thomas time. It is the north-south divide. 

If you have lived here for any length of time, you have witnessed the divide. The north side is often viewed as privileged, uppity, and exclusive. The south side is viewed as working class, less sophisticated. One is the up and one is the down. One part of town was worse or better, depending on your address, in everything and anything. The south side is one thing. The north side is its opposite. One street address was desirable while another was less so. It is the yin and yang of city development. You know how this goes. 

So where did all of this begin? Where did this divide and rivalry begin? Well, as it turns out, it goes back to the beginning - as many things do. 

Most cities begin in a central spot and grow outward. Fort Thomas began at two terminal points and grew inward and they wrestled for dominance.  There were two major areas - one on the north end and, you guessed it, one on the south end. The struggle became more pronounced as the two areas expanded and it seemed inevitable that they would combine, along with a few smaller communities, to form the current city. 

The divide is most noticeable at the intersection of Highland Avenue and South and North Fort Thomas Avenues.  

At the time there was a discussion about what to name the emerging community. Those on the north end preferred Highlands or even Mount Pleasant while those on the south, where the fort is located preferred Fort Thomas. At one point, residents of the north end marched to the south end to protest naming the new city after the military reservation.

Ultimately, the name was settled by the Post Office, and it wasn’t even involved in the discussion, when they began to postmark letters using Fort Thomas because that particular post office served the military reservation. They just stamped letters at the fort. Thus our name. It was that simple.  And that’s when the rivalry started. 

Shakespeare asked “What’s in a name?” Well, pretty much. I’m just glad that our founders didn’t settle on something like Gobbler’s Knob or Buzzard’s Roost. 

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