Named for its location “South of Houston Street”, the upmarket area of SoHo lies in Lower Manhattan and is home to some of New York’s trendiest boutiques and big brand designer names. It’s included in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District which recognises this distinctly American architectural innovation, with most of its buildings now transformed into luxury apartments.
Prince, Spring and Broome Streets all exhibit the grandeur of SoHo’s cast-iron architecture, dotted with historic watering holes, boutique hotels and eclectic cafes where visitors can brunch while soaking up the neighbourhood atmosphere. The attractive loft-style living and architecture of SoHo saw rapid gentrification towards the end of the 20th century, and its implementation across New York City has become known as the “SoHo Effect”. While many artists opened galleries during this period, the Children’s Museum of the Arts is a must if visitors are travelling with young ones. International designers have moved in throughout much of SoHo, particularly in the north of the neighbourhood, together with big name chain stores that have made it a New York City shopping mecca. There’s still hints of SoHo’s independent flair, with the Film Forum showcasing unique films and gourmet groceries providing an alternative way to shop.
SoHo is well connected with the rest of Manhattan by public bus and subway, with stations along Broadway and 6th Avenue. The area itself is relatively small and easily explored on foot, particularly if visitors want to admire the historic architecture.
The land on which SoHo now stands was the site of the first free Black settlement on Manhattan Island, given to freed slaves of the Dutch West Indies Company. It wasn’t until the mid 19th century that the cast-iron architecture of SoHo flourished, together with grand hotels, theatres and a red light district along the side streets off Broadway.