English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There are lots of cities and other designations with the word "Heights" in the name. Does this refer to something specific? Is it a marketing tactic perhaps?


  • Hacienda Heights
  • Sterling Heights
  • Washington Heights
  • Golan Heights
share|improve this question

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Mitch, tchrist, MετάEd, Kristina Lopez Jun 10 '13 at 17:44

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

General Reference. It just means that relative to the surrounding area, these places are built on higher ground. – FumbleFingers Jun 9 '13 at 16:22
@FumbleFingers I think it has a deeper social meaning than simply altitude. – mgb Jun 9 '13 at 16:52
@mgb: Sure - in just the same way that the folks who live on the hill are generally assumed to be "socially higher up / richer" as well as happening to live at a higher altitude. But that's all trivial metaphoric extension. You can see the opposite influence in references to valley girls, say, in California or Wales. – FumbleFingers Jun 9 '13 at 16:58
Whoever thought this question was GR is surely from one of those Heights. Might better start a campaign for Hyper-ELU for the hyperknowing. – Kris Jun 10 '13 at 6:19
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In the 19th century most big cities weren't particularly pleasant places. Horses, coal fires and limited sanitation meant they were dirty and smelly. The best places to live was on a hill in the fresh clean air - so XXX heights was the upper class area of the city. Or later, a marketing slogan for a new area to give the impression of luxury

Golan heights is a high plateau on the Israel/Syria border with rather more strategic than real estate value.

share|improve this answer
Thanks! That's basically what I had assumed, but could find virtually nothing about it searching the internet. I also seem to have the impression that it refers to a poorer area, but that might just stem from a couple coincidental examples. – robamaton Jun 9 '13 at 17:44
As the answer says, when they were built they would often have been the better areas, but these things go in cycles: as an area expands, the better class areas often gradually become poorer areas, until they get regenerated as better areas again. So whether a particular area is currently better or poorer may depend on nothing more than where in the cycle it is. – TrevorD Jun 9 '13 at 18:28
Or, the word is simply meant to invoke an aura of upscale living. – J.R. Jun 9 '13 at 19:30
@robamaton - there are probably some deprived housing projects called something-heights, just because the planners went through a list of names and had already used -lakes/groves/mews/park etc – mgb Jun 9 '13 at 19:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.