SoHo or South Of Houston is an area of Lower Manhattan between the West Village, The East Village, ChinaTown and Little Italy with its furthest border being TriBeCa. It is famous for its Art Galleries, Cast Iron Buildings and incredibly high rents ! It spans around 26 blocks and has around 500 buildings which make up the community.
Historically it was the first settlement of free blacks on Manhattan Island with the land given to them by the Dutch East India company. After a time the land was purchased by a wealthy family who kept it for a number of years before financial troubles hit and they were forced to sell. The land was broken up and sold off but there was almost no business or residential development until the collect pond which was a source of fresh water for a large part of the city,but had become infested by mosquitos and other waterborn pathogens was drained and filled in. When Broadway and Canal became paved streets people began to settle in the area with large beautiful cast iron buildings being built and lots of new shops hotels and theater
This influx of industry inevitably brought with it prostitution and the area soon fell into a decline with middle class residents leaving, the buildings soon became empty or occupied by smaller factories which produced wood snuff and copper piping to name a few.
Once the second World War was finished SoHo had been an almost inactive neighborhood for so long that the city had many original Iron Buildings torn down to make way for parking lots petrol stations and all kinds of Sweatshops. It was during this dark period that artists discovered SoHo for its empty cheap buildings
great natural light. After many artists choose to live in the area occupying buildings that were not to city code standard they managed to get the governments approval and a new set of laws allowing mixed use or live/work were created in 1982 making it legal to operate a business from your home or have a home where you worked.
Many efforts to preserve the historic value of the cast iron buildings, which we forged when architects thought that steel was less strong then iron and using Iron for building material proved a cheap and beautiful alternative, have been made and the original cobblestone streets and beautiful facades are still intact after architectural enthusiasts protested the razzing of the buildings. The area was designated a landmark in 1973 protecting this unique style of design and insuring that future development would never overtake the original buildings.
With its wealth of shops and galleries and cafes SoHo has emerged as a premier destination for travelers as well as some of the citys most fabulous residents to visit and stay. With its huge apartments and eclectic construction this area is one of the cities finest and a not to be missed destination.