Dr. Know is wise on all matters of nomenclature, as he proves with this response from the August 2013 issue.
There’s a small town called Clifton near Yellow Springs. Does it have anything to do with the Clifton neighborhood in Cincinnati? Were they named after the same person?—Sunday Driver
Dear Driver:There was no Mr. Clifton. Your pretty Sunday destination, the village straddling the Clark and Green County border at the head of the steep and scenic Little Miami River gorge, was originally named Davis Mills and was renamed Cliff Town at the turn of the 19th century—a name later shortened to Clifton. The argumentative Cincinnati neighborhood at the north end of the University of Cincinnati followed a different naming process. As a Sunday rambler, you have probably passed many vinyl-sided subdivisions with names like The Duck Ponds of Mason or The Arbors of Independence, whose developers chose to memorialize whatever it was their culs-de-sac replaced. So it was with Charles Clarkson’s 500-acre antebellum Clifton Farm, bought out of bankruptcy and chopped into lots to sell to machine-age plutocrats frozen out of Mt. Auburn. The instantly fashionable suburb was swallowed but not completely digested by the City of Cincinnati in 1893 and has been the source of considerable heartburn ever since.
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