SoHo comprises the area south of Houston Street, west of Lafayette Street, north of Canal Street, and to the east of either the Huson River, Sixth Avenue, or West Broadway, depending on who you ask. While distinct, it shares many characteristics with its downtown neighbors: Greenwich Village to the north, Tribeca to the south and west, and Nolita to the east. An attraction in its own right, SoHo is in many ways the Midtown of Downtown, with packed streets, high-end shopping, and expensive real estate. Much of the area is now a historic district to preserve its unique character, but that hasn’t stopped it from continually ranking as one of New York City’s trendiest neighborhoods in the minds of locals and visitors alike.
SoHo is often thought of as the poster neighborhood for urban regeneration. Originally a manufacturing area for much of the early-to-mid 20th century, SoHo became a haven for artists looking for inexpensive lofts to rent as limited residential space in the city made housing unaffordable. Saved through strong community activism from being torn down to create a highway across Lower Manhattan, it has since transformed and is now appreciated for its wealth of cast iron architecture on a scale found in few other places in the world.
To see what SoHo has become — no longer the neighborhood of sweatshops, but instead a shopping mecca — is essentially a study in contradictions. Some of New York City’s richer residents pay top dollar to live in cast iron penthouses, while attempts to keep the artistic presence of the area intact have lead to what are essentially artist quotas in residential buildings. Formerly desolate streets are now crowded with visitors seeking the quintessential city experience. Perhaps it is these layers of society that keep people coming back, or maybe it’s the architecture. Either way, SoHo will continue to be fashionable for years to come, bringing with it new residents who wish to keep the city one step ahead.