SoHo is famous for artists' lofts, art galleries, shops ranging from trendy upscale boutiques to national and international chain store outlets. The area consists of 26 blocks and about 500 buildings, many of them incorporating cast-iron architectural elements. Many side streets in the district are paved with Belgian blocks.
SoHo boasts the greatest collection of about 250 cast-iron buildings. Cast iron was initially used as a decorative front over a pre-existing building. With the addition of modern, decorative facades, older industrial buildings were able to attract new commercial clients. Most of these facades were constructed during the period from 1840 to 1880. In addition to revitalizing older structures, buildings in SoHo were later designed to feature the cast iron. The E. V. Haughwout Building at Broadway and Broome Street was built in 1856–57, and has a cast-iron facade by Daniel D. Badger Initially cast iron was cheaper to use for facades than materials such as stone or brick. Molds of ornamentation, prefabricated in foundries, were used interchangeably for many buildings, and a broken piece could be easily recast. The buildings could be erected quickly; some were built in four months. Despite the brief construction period, the quality of the cast-iron designs was not sacrificed. Bronze had previously been the metal most frequently used for architectural detail. Architects found that the relatively inexpensive cast iron could provide intricately designed patterns. Classical French and Italian architectural designs were often used as models for these facades. Because stone was the material associated with architectural masterpieces, cast iron, painted in neutral tints such as beige, was used to simulate stone.
Since the iron was pliable and easily molded, sumptuously curved window frames were created, and the strength of the metal allowed these frames considerable height. The once-somber, gas-lit interiors of the industrial district were flooded with sunlight through the enlarged windows. The strength of cast iron permitted high ceilings with sleek supporting columns, and interiors became expansive and functional.
During cast iron's heyday, many architects thought it to be structurally more sound than steel. It was also thought that cast iron would be fire-resistant, and facades were constructed over many interiors built of wood and other flammable materials. When exposed to heat, cast iron buckled, and later cracked under the cold water used to extinguish fire. In 1899, a building code mandating the backing of cast-iron fronts with masonry was passed. Most of the buildings that stand today are constructed in this way. It was the advent of steel as a major construction material that brought an end to the cast iron era.
SoHo's location, the appeal of lofts as living spaces, its architecture, and its reputation as a haven for artists all contributed to gentrification. A backwater of poor artists and small factories in the 1970s, SoHo became a popular tourist destination for people seeking fashionable clothing and exquisite architecture, and home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
SoHo's chain outlets are clustered in the northern area of the neighborhood, along Broadway and Prince and Spring Streets. The sidewalks in this area are often crowded with tourists and with vendors selling jewelry, T-shirts, and other works. SoHo is known for its commercialization and eclectic mix of boutiques for shopping. By 2010, there were more boutique chain stores
hehehe, it rhymes! many people want to sit at the famous chair inside kat'z deli that is the setting for Sally's (Meg Ryan) Fake Orgasm Scene with Harry (Billy Crystal) of the famous Chick Flick of 1989, When Harry Met Sally. The Famous Chair and Table can be where you will eat at the Iconic Katz Deli but for a first come first serve basis! (no reservations allowed), and when you happen to sit in here, you can always tell the waitstaff in your best Estelle Reiner as the older woman impressario "I'll have what she's having" and then laugh and have a selfie!
Kat'z Deli is Open from:
Monday - Wednesday: 8:00am - 10:45 pm
Friday: 8:00am - Open all night!
Saturday: Open all day!
Sunday: Open until 10:45pm
Open late Thursday and all night Friday/Saturday!!
*Take-out only for the last 15 minutes every night
Many of us who have watched movies and TV series have seen these ladders, or similar around New York. There were a TV serie "Tales from Soho" and of episode was named according to the ladders (The Ladder). The serie is older than I am, so I think only seniors remember, of course there might have been some re publishing.
The ladders are nice and somehow peculiar to us, I think that there are no single these type of ladders in our country.
Have fun in Soho!
There are a few streets here once you get off the main one that are quite quiet. Some fabulous shopping around here and an abundance of art galleries if that is your thing, although have to say many are rather pricy!
The wrought iron work here is something to look at if you like that (which I do!) and this was probably my favourite place to shop. Far more relaxing and some lovely shops (although some very expensive!)
If you have seen the 1985 Martin Scorsese film "After Hours", then you know what SoHo was like only two and a half decades ago. The district was one of the most rundown and perhaps dangerous neighbourhoods in Manhattan. Not so much today, for it has changed several times since then and is now one of the most desirable and expensive in New York. The area, named SoHo as an abbreviation to SOuth of HOuston Street, developed in the second half of the 19th century, when many beautiful cast-iron buildings were erected to serve as warehouses and factories. By 1960, most had shutdown or moved elsewhere leaving the large spaces with unusually high ceilings to be occupied by nascent artists who needed the space and light. The entire neighbourhood escaped demolition in the late 1960s thanks to the effort of preservationists, but it did not reemerge until the late 80s/early 90s when many art galleries took up spaces here due to proximity to the artists. Along with the artists, came new and young fashion designers, then in the late '90s artists' lofts were converted en masse to luxury residential lofts, which in turn attracted high-end designer shops such as Prada, Armani and Chanel, to name a few. Nowadays, SoHo is one the trendiest areas in Manhattan offering a mix of great high-end shopping, restaurants and art galleries. But the greatest charm of the district lies in its unique architecture and cobblestone streets.
Soho is one of my favorite neighborhoods to walk on a Saturday afternoon or early Sunday. It is particularly charming in the warm months. There are fabulous shops and restaurants, my favorite being Balthazar.
We’d visited SoHo when last in New York 26 years ago. At that time it was a relatively recently “discovered” area, with lofts being developed in the old warehouses and a few trendy shops, cafés and bars starting to spring up. We were keen to go back and see what it looked like after all this time. Would it have been spoiled? Would it have started to go downhill? Would we still like it?
As it turned out, we had a really good afternoon walking its streets, checking out a few galleries, eating lunch in a French style café (see my Restaurant tip on Le Petit café), shopping at a small craft market, taking photos and generally taking in the atmosphere.
The name SoHo is a blend of "South" and "Houston" from "south of Houston Street" and was invented when the area underwent its transformation into a trendy hot-spot. Prior to that, it was known as the Cast Iron District because it contains the greatest collection of cast-iron architecture in the world – well over 200 buildings. Cast iron was used in the mid nineteenth century to provide a decorative front to smarten up an old building, and later whole buildings in SoHo were later designed to feature the cast iron. Cast iron was quick to build with and cheaper than materials such as stone or brick: ornamental features could be prefabricated in foundries and broken pieces could be easily recast. Some of these features can be seen in my photos.
In the 1960s the area was threatened with demolition to make way for a new Expressway, but pressure from historians and activists saved it. In the 1970s artists started to move into the area, attracted by the large spaces in the run-down industrial units, and the revival and eventual gentrification of SoHo had begun. Nowadays trendy boutiques and bars line its streets, and it’s a popular destination for both New Yorkers and tourists, so don’t expect to have it to yourself. Nevertheless we enjoyed our explorations of streets such as Greene, Wooster and Mercier, visited some of the galleries (I liked Coda in Broome Street) and found it still a great place for photography. All in all, SoHo is a very pleasant place to spend some time.
Shopping in Soho (e.g., around Broadway/Mercer Streets, etc.) is always a nice treat. Here, you will find many trendy boutiques and shops as well as mainstream stores. The prices vary depending on the quality and brand of merchandise, but it seems like prices in many stores are lower here than in other areas.
Megs deigned to let me look around in an art gallery (William Bennett) in SoHo for 20 minutes where they are doing a retrospective of Picasso, Joan Miro (the dude who did the huge blue whimsical curved mural in our Cincinnati Art Museum), Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Matisse. LOVELY - some of my favorite artists. Saw some works by Dali for as little as $1,450 and some by Matisse for as much as $48,000! I love art galleries; not nearly as overwhelming as some art museums can be, plus they've a smaller focus. Told the proprietor at the gallery that I don't really care for Picasso but that I LOVE Chagall, perhaps it has something to do with his blues (my favorite color). He asked me if I'd heard the saying that "God gave yellow to Van Gogh, red to Matisse, and blue to Chagall". Cool.
I loved Soho even though I didn’t buy anything! Most visitors come here for the small art galleries (pics 1 and 2). Most of the artists are unknown to me that sell unique clothes and other items (I have to admit that I found most of them kitch and expensive). Some of these art galleries are interesting even from outside so you can spend your time doing window shopping (it’s free anyway!) but have in mind that in our days most of the art galleries are in districts like Chelsea. Before my visit here I thought it was something like SOHO in London but then I’ve learnt that the name comes from SOuth of HOuston street!
Greene street was very interesting because of the cast iron buildings of the 19th century. Cast iron used to be relatively cheap after the industrial revolution (late 18th-early 19th century) that brought many (good and bad) changes in daily life everywhere in the western world. There many building with cast iron elements in Soho but on Greence street I counted more than 40! They were built between 1869-1895. Take a look at some of the facades, especially those with columns in Corinthian style!! (pic 3)
I was already satisfied with the big museums of NY so I just took some notes of the museums of SOHO and I will probably visit them next time:
Children’s museum of the Arts at 182 Lafayette
New Museum of Modern Art at 583 Broadway avenue
Museum of Comic and Cartoon Arts at 594 Broadway avenue
New York City Fire Museum 278 Spring street
We spend some more time walking around the cobblestones of SOHO and I tried to imagine all those artists that during 60s and 70s have their studios here.. I took some photos of some weird painted (pic 4) or cheap (pic 5) cars and we continued walk to the east where Little Italy and Nolita are. In fact the streets of Little Italy are a big “nothing” with no Italian flavor at all. There are only some Italian restaurants if you want some pasta or pizza but don’t expect something more than this. Mulberry street is the most common street to walk into (with souvenir stores etc) or visit the St Patrick Old Cathedral at 260 Prince street.
An acronym for SOuth of HOuston (pronounced "how-stun") Street. This eclectic neighborhood in lower Manhattan had a long history before becoming New York City's artistic haven. The SoHo that surrounds you, with its cast-iron warehouses and cobblestone streets arose in the 1850's after the residential population moved uptown. Up rose these ornate edifices housing fabrics, china, glass and more for companies like Lord & Taylor and Tiffany's. The lower floors were designed for displays and became perfect for the art galleries to come. By the late 1900's, the fashionable businesses moved uptown and the area developed into a seedy, sweatshop-filled slum known as "hell's hundred acres."New labor laws forced the sweatshops to evacuate leaving SoHo a ghost town ripe for a revolution!
Through the 1960's artists quietly moved into the abandoned buildings which provided "lofty" spaces to contain their creativity. (Even if there often was no electricity!) But by the 1970's SoHo developed into a community, transforming itself into a residential / commercial / artistic zone. beginning in the 1980s, in a way that would later apply elsewhere, the neighborhood began to draw more affluent residents. This led to an eventual exodus of the area's artists during the 1990s, leaving galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and young urban professionals behind.
SoHo's boutiques and restaurants are clustered in the northern area of the neighborhood, along Broadway and Prince and Spring streets. The sidewalks in this area are often crowded with tourists and with vendors selling jewelry, t-shirts, and other works, sometimes leaving no space for pedestrians to walk. SoHo is known for its eclectic mix of different boutiques for shopping, including Prada, Chanel, popular skateboard/sneakerhead stores such as Supreme and Clientele, Kid Robot, and the newly established Apple Store.
I went to the Soho district by a chance since my hotel was nearby. I was on my way to the Empire State and decided to walk along the Broadway. There are some nice shops in the area (they start shortly after the not so nice Canal Street), selling funky, colourful wellington boots (absolutely everyone was wearing wellies when it rained! That's is so sweet and funny at the same time, since no one ever wears wellies in London, but they certainly do in NYC!!), relatively trendy clothes in shops that just don't exist in Europe (as well as designer gear and the usual DKNY, GAP and other shops you can find almost anywhere), decorative items for home/furniture. There also a few ethnic shops and lots of cafes. On the other side of the district, near the West Broadway, there are also some nice looking restaurants.