SoHo (“South of Houston”) is bounded by Houston Street to the north and Canal Street to the south. While the name may bring to mind the similarly titled district in London, the cast iron railings and facades may do more to recall London’s atmosphere. Once known as the Cast Iron District for the many buildings with such facades, New York’s SoHo exhibits the greatest concentration of cast iron architecture in the world. The decorative railings, columns, fire escapes and buildings with oversize windows and ornate lobbies belie the relatively unassuming history of the neighborhood as a manufacturing district.
It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s when artists migrated en masse to the area, drawn to the wide spaces and tall ceilings of the factory floors, that the SoHo we currently know came into being. The New York Loft Board helped artists navigate the zoning laws to allow them to convert the industrial buildings into live/work spaces. The 1980s saw the influx of more affluent residents, attracted by the large loft apartments and distinctive architecture as well as the reputation of the neighborhood as hip, trendy and avant garde. Though lofts are what the area is known for, some tenement-type walk-ups can be found as well. These days the area is known as a required shopping destination for fashonistas with established brands like Prada, Chanel and Marc Jacobs vying with vintage clothing stores, designer jewelry stores, sidewalk art and clothing vendors as well as large outlets like H&M and Daffy’s.
SoHo is extremely convenient with a multitude of subway lines. The A, C, E, 1, N, Q, R, 6, J, M, and Z lines are all accessible with stations along Canal and at Spring, Prince, Broadway-Lafayette and Houston.