The Soho Neighborhood In New York

What To See And Do In The Soho District?

SoHo is a very popular area of Manhattan, located west of Little Italy. This neighborhood with many faces can be both modern, chic and very lively, and much more calm and relaxing in its residential part. SoHo is in particular a must-see place for its stores and fashion boutiques, but also for its industrial buildings with atypical architecture, its museums and its art galleries.

Here is a little guide to allow you to learn much more about this district of New York which is one of the must-see places not to be missed during a visit to New York.

The Soho Story

In the 19th century, the district was home to an industrial area nicknamed Hell’s Hundred Acres (the hundred acres of hell, one are representing half a hectare).

At the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, the textile industry developed greatly in this sector, which was then a bit like the New York equivalent of the Sentier de Paris. Even today, the famous Cast-iron Buildings are there to testify to the intense activity present in this district during the industrial revolution.

It was from the 1960s, when these industrial buildings had been abandoned, that many artists settled in SoHo. For them, these large buildings, which were offered at a very good price on the real estate market, represented perfect places to establish a workshop or an art gallery. As early as 1973, the area became a historic district, and many industrial buildings were completely converted into lofts and studios.

By 1990, SoHo had become the neighborhood favored by contemporary artists and had more than 300 art galleries. Following this veritable renaissance of SoHo, real estate prices rose again, and gradually many artists were forced to move to other areas where real estate remained more affordable, such as Brooklyn. Today, the SoHo district has become a very touristy place in New York.

It is best known for its many luxury boutiques, and has become one of the city’s favorite places for shopaholics.

It is possible to discover this district during a guided tour, which will allow you at the same time to discover the districts of Chinatown and Little Italy, which are right next door. If you are in a group, it can really be interesting in terms of price and you will enjoy a discovery of the districts with a local guide who will explain the fascinating stories of each corner of these three districts.

Where Is The Soho District Located?

soho district new york
Soho District, New York

SoHo is a district of Manhattan that owes its name to its geographical location. Indeed, SoHo is actually located south of Houston Street (SOuth of HOuston St.). This name therefore has no connection with the district of Soho in London. The neighborhood is bounded on the north by Houston Street, on the south by Canal Street, on the east by Crosby Street, and on the west by 6th Avenue and the Hudson River.

The Atypical Architecture Of This District

new york district
New York District

As soon as you arrive on the streets of SoHo, you will notice the characteristic architectural style of the buildings in the neighborhood. SoHo is one of the places in the world with the most buildings made of cast iron.

Today, most of these huge buildings have been refurbished and now house lofts with much more reasonable dimensions. This great architectural richness has earned SoHo to be classified as a National Historic Landmark and to appear on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the industrial revolution, the price of cast iron fell significantly, until it became a more economical material than stone or brick. Cast iron was therefore very widely used both to make the structures and facades of factories, but also for the construction of residential buildings. This new manufacturing method, with the production of standardized parts, made it possible not only to reduce construction costs, but also to reduce the risk of fire. These cast-iron buildings are known as Cast-iron Buildings.

Buildings in SoHo often consist of 5 to 6 stories maximum, with large and beautiful windows. We find on their facade stairs and ladders, which were added from the beginning of the 20th century. On the facades there are also many decorative elements typical of European Renaissance and Second Empire architecture, such as arcades, cornices and balustrades.

The Cast-iron Buildings Of Soho

During a visit to SoHo, you can take a short walk through the streets of the district to discover the most beautiful Cast-iron Buildings, which are located on Broome Street, Broadway, Green Street and Mercer Street. In particular, you will be able to discover:

  • The Roosevelt Building, at 478—82 Broadway,
  • The Gunther Building, at 469 Broome Street,
  • The EV Haughwout Building at 488—492 Broadway, home to the world’s first steam-powered elevator,
  • The Cheney Building, at 477—81 Broome Street,
  • The Queen of Green Street, at 28 Green Street…

Where To Shop?

In SoHo, shopping is practically a way of life. In this district, you can find clothing stores, jewelry stores, decorative object shops, but also designer boutiques on every street corner. SoHo is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in all of New York for shopping aficionados.

Broadway And Mercer Street

Many of the largest and most well-known brands are located along Broadway and Mercer Street. You can therefore reach the intersection of Prince Street and Broadway to start your shopping spree. In particular, you can find a Bloomingdale’s store, or the Old Navy store, which offers many fashion items for children and adults, at affordable prices.

Other famous brands you can find on Broadway include Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21, H&M, Uniqlo and American Eagle Outfitters.

Broome St, Prince St And Spring St.

Along Broome Street, Prince Street and Spring Street you will find a good number of smaller sized shops. It is by walking along these cobbled streets that you can discover designer boutiques and major luxury brands such as Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs.

Artists & Fleas

Cast Iron Buildings New York
Cast Iron Buildings, New York

SoHo also hosts a large indoor market: Artists & Fleas. In this market located on Broadway in a former sewing factory, you can find around forty stalls, where designers and artisans offer entirely handmade products. Artists & Fleas SoHo is open daily, including Sundays.

Cultural Places To Discover In Soho

SoHo is also a very culturally rich neighborhood, and you can visit several memorable museums here:

  • The New Museum of Contemporary Art exhibits the works of a large number of contemporary artists from all over the world. Inaugurated in 1977, since 2007 it has been located in a new building with a futuristic style, near Prince Street.
  • The New York City Fire Museum is a museum honoring the city’s firefighters. On the 3 floors of this former fire station, many objects are exhibited, such as equipment and old vehicles. A visit to this museum allows you to discover more about the history of these true heroes of New York.
  • The Children’s Museum of the Arts allows children to discover more than 2,000 works that have been selected especially for them. Artists are also present to allow them to follow workshops and awaken their artistic awareness.

Although very oriented towards shopping, the district has not denied its rich artistic history, and a large number of art workshops can still be visited today. Among the most famous, you can find:

  • The Morisson Hotel Gallery, which exhibits the most beautiful shots of the biggest stars of music and show business. This gallery takes its name from the Doors album released in 1970.
  • Artists Space, one of the most emblematic galleries in the district, which since 1972 has housed works that have often created controversy within the artistic community.
  • The Franklin Bowles Gallery, which houses many works from the 20th century, made by renowned artists such as Miro, Dali or Matisse.

Where To Eat And Go Out In Soho?

Several good addresses will allow you to enjoy a good meal in SoHo. Ed ‘s Lobster Bar is renowned for its lobster dishes, including the famous Lobster Rolls. At the Mercer Hotel, you can taste one of the best burgers in town. To taste a typical Cheesecake, you can visit Eileen’s Special Cheesecake. Pizza lovers can also find one of the best pizzerias in New York in SoHo: Ben’s Pizza.

Just off SoHo, you can also take a walking tour of the most popular patisseries in Manhattan. Here is an original activity to do, especially if you are looking for something a little less popular and touristic. You will discover the craze for Cupcakes that has settled in New York, more precisely in Manhattan, and you will be able to taste some during the activity.

SoHo is also a very lively district in which you can spend a memorable evening. Here you won’t find big clubs like in some other areas of New York. On the other hand, you can go to bars with a very pleasant atmosphere, such as Fanelli’s Cafe, located at 94 Prince Street. Weather permitting, you can even drop by The James New York, at 27 Grand Street, and sit in its second-floor garden for views of the streets of SoHo.

Leave a Comment