NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

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Soho

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A glamorous hybrid of downtown New York's industrial and artistic past, present-day SoHo boasts a smorgasbord of high-end retail, trendy boutiques, and condominiums, continually sprouting up right alongside the artists and classic establishments that planted the seeds of its current flourish. SoHo’s mesmerizing menagerie of cast-iron buildings and historic streets betray its rich history and summon the ghosts of its many previous lives, while offering awe-inspiring original beauty to its chic contemporary inhabitants and visitors.


Landscape

Located south of Houston Street (hence, "SoHo"), north of Canal Street, east of Sixth Avenue, and west of Lafayette Street, SoHo is located in prime downtown Manhattan. Once a collection of farms among rolling hills, streams, and a swamp at its southern end, SoHo eventually became a playground for industrial architects in the late 19th century, who created what is now the largest existing collection of cast-iron architecture in the world.


History

SoHo's history writes the textbook on contemporary gentrification, exemplifying the physical, political, and socio-economic developments associated with urban renewal. Its historical progression has been approximated so closely in other cities that it has come to be known as "The SoHo Effect." A center of bustling nightlife, theatre, and shopping in the 1850s, SoHo fell into decline as larger industrial buildings and factories became prominent in the area and residents moved uptown to be closer to the northward-migrating center of the city. By the early 1900s, a series of large industrial fires coupled with a growing reputation as a red-light district earned the area a new nickname, "Hell's Hundred Acres." Artists eventually discovered the large, inexpensive (and in some cases, free) spaces in the area's many abandoned loft buildings and migraged en masse in the 1970s, leading to an influx of cultural cachet and and investment. Soon thereafter, cutting-edge art galleries were established, followed by restaurants, shops, and eventually residential developments, and SoHo now boasts some of the most exclusive and sought-after real estate in the city.