Few places in America, let alone Manhattan, have influenced the arts as much as SoHo, and few places are as distinct; the cast iron buildings in SoHo are architectural treasures that give it an unmistakable feel. Combine that with many cobblestone side-streets made of Belgian Blocks, and it’s easy to see why real estate in SoHo is so highly coveted by New Yorkers (and celebrities). Located south of Houston Street, - the name SoHo is derived from that designation - north of Canal Street and west of Broadway, SoHo exerts a cultural influence that belies just how small a section of Manhattan it occupies. Easily the hippest neighborhood in Manhattan, it’s not a stretch to call it the most unique shopping area in the borough. The trendy shopping available there is unrivaled, and SoHo’s world-class art galleries are rooted in a history of prolific artists that have called it home. Since the 1960’s, SoHo has been a center of artistic activities - many artists illegally occupied lofts there during that time - and that reputation has deservedly remained intact to this day.
In order to understand why artists love SoHo so much that they would illegally occupy old industrial spaces, one must look at the buildings themselves. The historic iron cast buildings that were originally built for light industry between 1840 and 1880 are perfect for painters especially: the lofts on the upper floors have high ceilings and large, unobstructed interior spaces with huge amounts of natural light that come through the curved windows. Moreover, architects from that era designed the iron cast exteriors in classical French and Italian patterns and often added ornate moldings. These buildings are unusually beautiful for old industrial spaces, and the lofts inside are no less so. In 1973 the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated almost the entire neighborhood as a historic district, a true tribute to the value of this unique neighborhood. Buildings such as The Little Singer Building, The E.V. Haughwout Building, and 109 Prince Street are unlike any others inside or outside of Soho. With such outstanding architecture it’s no wonder that SoHo went from artists enclave to celebrity destination. Now an exceptionally affluent, safe place, SoHo contains many businesses and galleries as unique as the neighborhood itself. The pubs, lounges, and wine bars found there bear witness to it’s vibrant night life, and if you want to experience fine dining, SoHo has it in spades. SoHo is a Manhattan gem with an identity all it’s own.