Earlier this week, Washington-area news media reported that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, daughter and son-in-law of the president-elect, would be moving into a six-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bathroom house in the District of Columbia. The house, which sold on December 22 for $5.5 million, $400,000 under the listing price, is less than two blocks from where President and Mrs. Obama will live after they leave the White House. (It isn’t clear whether the Trump-Kushners had bought it or will be renting from the buyer).
The neighborhood is called Kalorama, which got my attention.
“Kalorama” may sound like a 1950s invention: a competitor, perhaps, to Cinerama. But it turns out this name dates back to 1807, when it was bestowed on a single house in the neighborhood by its owner, the poet Joel Barlow. (Barlow was also an ardent supporter of the American Revolution, a friend of Thomas Paine, and a proponent of the French Revolution who eventually accepted French citizenship. His DC house was demolished in 1887 to make room for a street extension.) Barlow coined “Kalorama” from Greek roots meaning “beautiful” and “wide view.” The surrounding area remained rural until the late 19th century, when it was subdivided for development. When, in 1893, Congress ordered the original Pierre Charles L’Enfant city plan extended to include the entire District, existing developments were exempted. And so Kalorama, along with a very few other neighborhoods, does not conform to D.C.’s elegant grid system.
There was a minor craze for -orama coinages in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Greek words caught English speakers’ fancy just as Greek building styles captured English and American architects’. Panorama, which originally meant “a painting on a revolving surface,” was coined around 1789 by the Irish artist and inventor Robert Barker. Diorama, which was adopted into English from French in 1823, originally referred to a type of picture-viewing device; its current meaning of “a small-scale replica of a scene” is from 1902.
-orama, -arama, and -rama are popular commercial suffixes as well. A sampling, culled at random: FUN-O-RAMA and TEACH-O-RAMA are trademarks registered to the Arthur Murray company for dance instruction and competitions; SWAP-O-RAMA is a company specializing in “flea market services”; PANT-O-RAMA is a brand of shapewear; and SALMON A RAMA (sic) is a trademark registered to Salmon Fishing of Wisconsin for “organizing and promoting fishing contests.”