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Nautical Neighborhood Names


DShomshak
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So, my current Fantasy campaign is set in a large port city. Waterfront neighborhoods tend to have nautically-themed nicknames. I've named most of them, but I hope people whpo know more about matters maritime can suggest more, or better names having to do with building or servicing ships and shipping.

 

So far there are Galleys and Dhows (two of the more common types of visiting ships), Stevie (for the stevedore's guild hall), Oldfish and Newfish (old and new fish markets), Shopwrights, Riggings, Spars, Nets, Sailmaker, Tarside, Chandlery and Groggery (heavy on taverns, even by waterfront standards). One of the main streets is Anchor Way. Ship Street, Captain Street and Harbor Street are main streets for the whole city.

 

Spars probably builds masts, too.

 

Any others, please?

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Is there a naval base? If so, it is likely to be quite large, and very secure. (Don't want people setting your ships on fire!)

 

Religious foundations can be important, even without an specific Sea God.  You could have a Christian-style church dedicated to the patron saint of seafarers, which could give its name to a local area (parish). It might also have a hostel for retired/injured sailors, and so on.

 

If there are significant numbers of foreigners in a particular area, it could be named for them.

 

Important brokerages and merchant houses could give their names to a neighbourhood/street.

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Yes, there's a naval base, but I didn't really consider the Naval Palace or Imperial Harbor a neighborhood. Neither is the Pera Sacra, leading out to the holiest shrine of the city's patron god. Instead of brick or stone, it's built of wood salvaged from old ships. And indeed there are "foreign ethnic" neighborhoods already; I didn't list Belemna Nova, Timbal Town, Little Jiranda or Little Vohai because the referent isn't specifically nautical. The merchant houses mostly keep their headquarters in the moneyed boroughs such as Exordium abd Tarsia, but I suppose one might stay closer to the ships. 'Slip' is good for the New Harbor north of the city, where much of the shipbuilding now takes place: will use. Thanks, Archer!

 

Dean Shomshak

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Tether

Coil

Drift

Driftwood

flounder

float

buoy

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Sailing_ship_components

 

types of ships:

balinger

bark

barkentine

barge

bireme

brigantine

buss

caique

skiff

caracore

caravel

carrack

clipper

cog

corvette

cutter

dinghy

dhow

dogger

dory

dromon

frigate

galleon

gig

hulk

junk

ketch

longship

lugger

privateer

punt

schooner

scow

sloop

smack

tartan

tender

trireme

windjammer

yawl

 

Sailor's use a lot of knots https://www.101knots.com/category/sailing-knots

 

Some of the knots that sound interesting

 

Clove Hitch

Rolling Hitch

Thief Knot

Monkey's Fist

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8 hours ago, DShomshak said:

The merchant houses mostly keep their headquarters in the moneyed boroughs such as Exordium abd Tarsia, but I suppose one might stay closer to the ships.

 

I was thinking of their warehouses, and where their ships dock: "Medici Wharf" or "East India Docks" - that kind of thing.

 

More generally, a neighbourhood can take on the name of the most prominent feature - "down by the Arsenal" can become "the Arsenal".

 

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I might have another neighborhood named after a type of ship, so that's welcome. Villers' Men, Ships and the Sea gave various classic Eurocentric sorts, but eh, I'm not sure I want a neighborhood named Sloop or Barkentine.

 

Of course I should have checked Wikipedia, but until last night I was limited to very slow dial-up. It'll take a while to get used to having time to look things up.

 

The horrible district the city guards won't go even in groups is the Shambles. It was the city's first harbor, but eventually filled with silt and garbage faster than it could be dredged. (Or at least the city wasn't willing to pay for it.) Then the muddy ground was reserved for the city's butchers for a while. Now it's just a mucky slum. But considering its origin, "The Bilge" might be a better name.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

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And before anyone brings it up, while the Waterfront has many brothls I don't think there's a specific neighborhood that's notorious for them like, IIRC, London's Isle of Dogs or Whitechapel. Or rather there's a red-light district but it isn't on the waterfront.

 

Dean Shomshak

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As always, Terry Pratchett was the master of naturalistic place names. Even when he was making jokes he was creating places where people would actually live.

 

Beyond that, it doesn't hurt to look at actual ports. Even those with relatively short histories have history, society and geography baked into them.

 

Why is this area known as Lady Furgnell's Chair? Because....

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There are many synonyms for sailors that might be good: gob, hearty, jack, jack-tar, mariner, navigator, salt, sea dog, seafarer, seaman, shipman, swab, swabbie (also swabby), tar. Salt and tar seem to be pretty common in fiction.

 

Here were some other related terms that also seemed interesting: coxswain, lubber and limey.

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I like names that have a story or seem to require one. Non-obvious names, like Piccadilly Circus or Elephant and Castle, locations in London that have visitors wondering what the story is. So, in this case, something that is non-nautical. What about the name of an old god that is no longer worshipped, or is even reviled and hated, but the name lingers on. In the same way that days of the week kept pagan names even under Christianity.

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On 5/13/2021 at 9:02 PM, Spence said:

The Churn.  That neighborhood where no one travels alone and the City Guard only ventures in force. 

"I grew up in a neighbourhood called Noah's Ark. You travelled in pairs or you just didn't travel."

 

Lt. Nick Holden. "Operation Petticoat"

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You could call whatever serves as a dump or trash yard the Ballast Field or similar.

 

A fancy neighborhood or one with ostentatious aspirations could be called Coxcomb (a name for fancy knotwork on railings to prevent hands slipping). Another could be Crows Nest.

 

The road adjacent to the wharf areas could be called Stantion Way or the like. 

 

The widest or largest courtyard could be called the Beam.

 

A large central road could be called Keel Way.

 

If you have an area that handles machinery you could go with Capstans Circle.

 

Lower class neighborhoods could be called Bollards. 

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You could have an old part of the city flooded in the bay and call it "The Lowlands".

 

Most of the buildings are underwater but the tops of some of them are visible at low tide.

 

Someone "visiting the Lowlands" would be a euphemism for "somebody took them out and drowned them in the bay". That seems like an appropriate thing for the criminal element of a port city to do.

 

Dealer's choice on whether any living beings other than fish inhabit the Lowlands. 

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Since you have a port area, what is the cities port mainly used for?  That can influence the names.  what is the ports primary purpose.  Fishing, whaling, shipping, shipbuilding and so on.  Also are the ships manned by independent professionals or are ships manned by press ganging, sentenced criminals or a combination or neither?

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Shipping dominant, but also fishing and shipbuilding. Hadn't thought of whaling, or some analog. I onbly imagined the Render House neighborhood rendering tallow and other leavings from the city's butchers. It's something to consider; thank you.

 

All crews chiefly free professionals, though convicts being sentenced to the galleys is a definite possibility: The society has convict labor, though not slavery as such. Press ganging is such a classic trope that it should exist, but it won't be just grabbing people off the street., But a drunken scrawl across a contract is legal.

 

Oh, bother. Here's the material I already have on the waterfront area from the Player's Guide I wrote about Thalassene, the City of the Sea. This is deliberately written for atmosphere and the common knowledge of residents, not detailed, encyclopedia-style GM information. Also, just the bits specifically about Waterfront activities.

-------------

Geography

Thalassene occupies a spit about 14 miles long and a mile wide. The northwest coast is limestone rock scoured bare and rugged by storms blowing off the Inner Ocean. It rises to a ridge just 50 feet above sea level. The southeastern side has a layer of clay and soil over the limestone, descending gradually to a flat, sandy shore. A low, limestone plateau or mesa rises from these flatlands. Reefs make much of the southeastern coast hazardous for large ships, but at Thalassene the large island of Quisquiline creates a huge natural harbor.

 

[It's loosely based on ancient Alexandria. I'm trying for a more Hellenistic/Classical/Byzantine feel, not scrubby little Medieval Europe where 10,000 people is considered a big city.]

-------------

A Tour of the City
...

 

The narrow strip of the Waterfront curves south and east around Exordium. No surprise, this area holds many warehouses, sailmakers, net-menders, and other businesses catering to sailors, ships and longshoremen. This includes taverns — lots and lots of taverns. Brothels, too, of the low sort for men who aren’t picky after months at sea. Some neighborhoods are notorious as the haunts of foreign sailors with strange and sinister customs, such as the fire-worshipping Kurithans of Tarside. It is whispered that not everyone who seeks the drug dens of Tarside returns… though their corpses may turn up, strangely burned, floating in the harbor.

 

The Waterfront’s most notable landmark is the Pera Sacra, or Sacred Pier. This floating wooden pier leads to the chief temple of Thalassene’s patron god Manakel, built on an islet in the Great Port. Instead of brick or stone, the temple is built of wood salvaged from old ships. Sailors visit the Pera Sacra before a voyage to pray for a safe journey, and after it to thank the god for bringing them back alive. The high priest of the Pera Sacra is Pontifex Gillis Pease, a peg-legged halfling and former sailor whose ship sank far from land. Abandoning hope of rescue, Gillis consigned his soul to the sea. Manakel accepted, and a ship found Gillis an hour later. The halfling is now the most powerful cleric in Thalassene.

 

But the waterfront would not exist without trade. Hundreds of ships dock at dozens of quays. The stevedores are mostly humans, orcs and minotaurs, but they include sturdy dwarves, nimble halflings and stranger folk such as the four-legged, reptilian trogodons. They load and unload cargoes precious or pedestrian: coralwood, cotton and copra, pickles, papyrus, perfume and pearls, great clay jugs of squid sauce, oil and wine, dwarven steel and elven glass, tapestries, toys and tamed pterodactyls, bags of rice, barrels of dates, baskets of alum and caskets of jewels, the spices of a dozen lands, and so much more. The multi-lingual profanity is amazing.

 

Most important are the grain ships. Thalassene is too big for the neighboring provinces to feed. Survival depends on galleons, junks and dhows of rice, wheat and other staples from around the Inner Ocean… and the nearest, largest sources are Viltarn and Macrine. Both states vow to destroy the Plenary Empire — but they can’t stop selling it food. The money’s just too good. The city government is a major buyer, but private trade flourishes, too.

...

Towering over the Great Port stands the immense, fortified lighthouse called the Candlestick. At more than 500 feet, it’s the tallest building in the Plenary Empire. Thalasseners say it’s the tallest building wrought by mortal hands. (Sages who suspect how long people have lived on Old Earth may doubt this claim.) The Candlestick needs no fuel: Its light comes from hundreds of continual flame spells cast on small glass balls, packed together and focused by mirrors.

...

The moat across the peninsula is properly called the Fosse. The ditch is more than 150 feet wide. Small, shallow-draft boats can pole through beneath the five great bridges that carry streets and aqueducts. Dozens of fishing boats use the Fosse to reach the fish markets more quickly.

...

The new settlements beyond the Fosse are called Transfossa. A branch of the Fosse leads to an inland harbor, the center of shipbuilding and repair for Thalassene’s merchants. A very large, very loud man called Ventor Volumnus runs the harbor and drydocks as their absolute monarch. This would make Ventor one of the most powerful men in Thalassene, but he doesn’t care about anything except building ships.

...

The Port Market, Thalassene’s largest, occupies the waterfront between Almagest’s wall and the warehouses and quays. The streets that cross the Market are lined with shops of leading merchants, notably those who import cloth, wine, spices, and other luxury goods. Between the streets is a maze of stalls and kiosks selling an immense variety of goods, from fish sauce to religious icons. Some stalls are well-established venues of small-time merchants and artisans. Others are ad-hoc for whoever arrives first each day to rent the space from the Market’s aedile.

...

Finally, the peninsula of Locheis is Thalassene’s smallest district. The fortified palace of the Inner Ocean Navy occupies the peninsula’s tip. This is the domain of Lord Admiral Probulus Nepos Speltor. It’s no secret the Lord Admiral got the job through his uncle Licinius Speltor, the Prefect of Public Works, one of the Empire’s most powerful bureaucrats. Probulus has no military experience. He had never been on a ship before arriving in Thalassene, and he still has never been outside the Great Port. Everyone in Thalassene knows the Lord Admiral squeezes the Naval and city budget to further enrich his uncle and his cronies.

...

Military

...

The Inner Ocean fleet has its own small harbor in Locheis, or ships dock at the harbor of Cibotus for repairs. From these harbors, visiting sailors and marines fan out to the bars and brothels of the Waterfront. Second Navarch Eudoxus Marinus Crassus commands the naval base and does all the real administration for the fleet. He is a distant cousin of Clavetia’s Exarch Crassus Numerius. Eudoxus has a reputation as a competent captain, though, with a real dislike of pirates. If any pirates are captured, Eudoxus attends the hanging.

-----------------

Large-scale map of city boroughs:

THALASS8.thumb.JPG.42e7783a89c082bc6d8b98a5e1481438.JPG

 

1 small square = 10 ft. maps of nothern and soughern halves of the city still in development:

N_THAL.thumb.JPG.5c08b8c845bac042ea702e4703aa99cc.JPGS_THAL.thumb.JPG.8a0d54fc46b0525cf3542dc29e3fd5fc.JPG

 

Dean Shomshak

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-Hiring halls for stevedores and sailors;

-Fish curing grounds (open saltmarsh, possibly with drying racks);

-Ropewalks;

-Lumberyards (for seasoning), also naval stores, canvas, sailmakers;

-Tanneries (for sealers). I notice a tannery and adjacent fullery adjacent to the hippodrome, but I don't think that's a very plausible location for them. Ditto a brickwork. 

-Precincts for foreign traders, like the Hanse in London;

-A moneychanging/goldsmithing district;

-Fortunetellers;

-Rags district;

-Granaries, mills, stonecutters, saw mill, nail mill, all needing water access and a fair amount of space, with preferably a millstream or adjacent to a hill for a windmill;

 

 

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18 hours ago, Lawnmower Boy said:

-Hiring halls for stevedores and sailors;

-Fish curing grounds (open saltmarsh, possibly with drying racks);

-Ropewalks;

-Lumberyards (for seasoning), also naval stores, canvas, sailmakers;

-Tanneries (for sealers). I notice a tannery and adjacent fullery adjacent to the hippodrome, but I don't think that's a very plausible location for them. Ditto a brickwork. 

-Precincts for foreign traders, like the Hanse in London;

-A moneychanging/goldsmithing district;

-Fortunetellers;

-Rags district;

-Granaries, mills, stonecutters, saw mill, nail mill, all needing water access and a fair amount of space, with preferably a millstream or adjacent to a hill for a windmill;

 

 

Already a district called Sailmaker, and I mentioned the foreign districts. Goldsmiths/jewelers in Gold Court, in Exordium.

 

Why would the tannery and fullery districts not be near the Hippodrome? I know tanneries stink. (Dyeworks, too. The masters say the vats smell like money. Everyone else says they smell like piss. Because I have read that premodern dyeing involved large quantities of piss.) So they'd tend to be in the poorer part of town, which Lost Harbor is. My experience with Tacoma Aroma (from the massive Simpson-Kraft pulp mill, now blessedly a thing of the past), though, is that odorous industries can stink up a city and moving them even a mile won't make much difference. Hm. Well, depending on prevailing winds. Geographically, Thalassene gets southern hemisphere trade winds, SE to NW, so moving the stinky biz a mile south to the edge of Almagest might keep the odors away from the rich folks in Exordium and Tarsia.

 

Brickworks already placed in a nearby small town. Figuline does pottery and tiles.

 

"Medieval Demographics Made Easy" lists old-clothes dealers as one of the more common businesses, but I hadn't considered there being a separate district. I had assumed they'd be scattered throughout town to be closer to customers, like the cobblers and barbers.

 

Thalassene has low relief and certainly no millstreams: just the aqueducts. (Though I have in mind a story driven by a magnate getting the city government to allocate one of the aqueducts to his business, which makes a lot of other people unhappy.) Windmills along the wall between the city and the Extern, which is the highest part of the ridge, could make sense.

 

Why does fish-curing need salt marsh? Salt would not seem to be an issue for an oceanic city (and the Salsus district in Exordium is named for a salt spring). The Extern would seem to be a good place, because the fisher-folk already live there and the ground is mostly limestone scoured bare by the storms off the ocean. (Thalassene is on the lee side of the spit.)

 

Thank you for the suggestions!

 

Dean Shomshak

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