The NY Post reprints Jacobsen’s Los Angeles Times Magazine article from 2009. The Post’s editors ask, why is it called Area 51? and write: “Area 51 has gone by many names. It was called ‘Groom Lake’ because of the dry lake bed there; ‘Watertown,’ after CIA Director Allen Dulles’ birthplace of Watertown, NY; ‘Paradise Ranch’ by officials hoping to attract workers; as well as ‘The Box’ and ‘The Container.’ ‘Dreamland’ also was used — Tom Clancy referenced the top-secret stealth fighter program as ‘Frisbees from Dreamland’ in his novel Red Storm Rising.
The most famous name, Area 51, did not come, as many have suggested, from some kind of grid number. Instead, it was named after the year the black operations began — 1951, says author Annie Jacobsen.
In 2008, the Area got a new name, or at least it was first revealed to the public — Homey Airport. That’s the label that showed up on navigation software used to prevent collisions from private airstrips. Military aviation buffs say the name comes from what test pilots used to call Area 51: “Home Plate.”