The diverse origins of districts’ names – 1/4

30 avril 2019, par Leo

Strasbourg is made up of many districts whose names raise questions for many people. Mostly, it happens when you live there and the district is not the obvious Great Island… We have ventured before into the origins and functions of Strasbourg’s street names in some previous articles (Street names in Strasbourg: the originsStreet names in Strasbourg: from the Castrum to the Renaissance).

Districts of Strasbourg

Now’s the time to delve into the districts’ names, something we more rarely have the chance to talk about during our free walking Tours. These names indeed appear along the way as they are born and thus follow a historical logic. There is also an aspect of practical designation: they should help you find your way easily!

I offer you here quite a simple (and simplified) chart to categorize the origins of the districts’ names. I list here an unfinished number of districts because many of them do not fit with any administrative designation, they exist only in common use. The administrative aspect will never supersede such an everyday use that allows us to make some places our homes (“t’heim” in alsatian) in a much more intimate way. Feel free to suggest another name below in the comments, so that we can add your own place!

In the following chart, I have suggested translations for some of the districts’ names that are alsatian in origin. For a whole selection, you can see the “au” suffix (pronunciation: ao). The older spelling is “aue“, always in the plural, and which appears to be “some wet land, periodically flooded, grassy, often used for grazing”. I took the liberty to shorten it to “meadow” for readability’s sake.

Names derived from the infrastructureFormer names of villagesLocal toponymy (often old names)Names derived from owners or fundersNames coming from the local practice
Quartier de l’hôpital
Hospital distric
"The King's courtyard"
"The Cabbage Meadow"
German quarter
Plaine des Bouchers
"The Butchers' Plain"
"The Hamlet of Finches"
"The Village of the Crown"
"My Meadow"
Conseil des XV
The Council of the 15
Port du Rhin
The Port of Rhine
("a clear space between a citadel and the nearest houses of the town" according to the Wiktionary)
"The New Village"
Montagne Verte
Alsatian: Grüne Beri
"The Green Moutain"

"Robert's Meadow"
Petite France
The Small France
The Orange Tree park
"The New Courtyard"
"At the shingle"
From Louis de Contades, a Marshal of France
"The Toll Meadow"
Quartier Bourse
Stock exchange district
The Great Island

District names in Strasbourg: The diverse origins