Getting lost in SoHo New York has its own charm – a mix of different periods with different movements of industry, architecture and art.
SoHo is probably one of my favorite places to wander about in New York. I love getting lost in its streets and being surprised by its sophisticated atmosphere and hidden bohemian touches. This is all thanks to SoHo’s beginnings (although little remains of the years when artists migrated here for the low prices). Even so, it still symbolizes Manhattan’s turnaround that turned it into one of the arts centers of the world decades before. Nowadays, new neighborhoods in New York such as Chelsea with its art galleries try to follow in the footsteps of SoHo.
SoHo gets its name from its location, south of Houston Street (“South of Houston”) and centuries before it didn’t quite have the same charm as we know today. It was an industrial area and in the mid-19th century it was subject to great upheaval, as constructors began to use cast iron as a material. This meant that its buildings began to hold great architectural importance, and in fact, it is now one of the most visited areas for architecture lovers. However, up until the mid-twentieth century SoHo didn’t have a lot of aesthetic beauty.
But it wouldn’t be until the mid sixties when SoHo underwent the revolutionary change into the well-known area we know today. In fact, the area has served as a reference point in numerous cities worldwide. Attracted by the abandoned factories with high ceilings, artists were inspired to adopt these spaces as studios and lofts to live in. This popularized and established SoHo as the home for many artists. Numerous galleries decided to establish themselves in the neighbourhood and of course, rich art connoisseurs flocked to SoHo. Bit by bit the unassuming lofts where the artists had lived became some of the most expensive homes in the city, surpassing real estate prices of the Upper East Side and Central Park. Nowadays, if you’re not ready to hear the word “millions” then you’re not ready to buy a studio in SoHo.
SoHo New York Architecture and Building Walk
Today’s SoHo combines the luxury and glamour of the shops, restaurants and homes of the rich and famous. In addition, the 19th and early 20th Century facades and buildings that still remain, continue to hold huge architectural importance. One morning with notes taken from one of my favorite websites to get to know the city (nyc-architectura.com), I went to SoHo to peacefully walk around and see some of the most iconic buildings. These were my favorites:
- Civic Center Synagogue. At 47 White Street and built in 1967. It’s a Jewish synagogue and has an unusual facade.
- The Little Singer Building. At 561 Broadway and built in 1904. It was the factory of the brand Singer and for a few weeks, when it was first built, was the tallest building in the world.
- Fleming Smith Warehouse. At 451 Washington Street (a little bit outside of SoHo) and built in 1892. It was a shoe factory, a wine warehouse and served afterwards as the first domestic building in the neighborhood.
- E.V. Haughwout Building. At 488-492 Broadway and built in 1856. Inspired by Venetian architecture, it belonged to the Haughwout department store that was the most famous in the world for the production of crystals, porcelain and mirrors.
- Puck Building. At 295-309 Lafayette Street and built in 1855. Known worldwide for the cherub on the facade, it’s one of Manhattan’s most iconic buildings. It belonged to the German printing firm Puck, closing in 1918 and is also known for the TV series Will and Grace, as the building where Grace worked.
The list of buildings and architectural styles are never-ending. We recommend that you have a look at the New York architecture blog if you want to know more nyc-architectura.com.
Where to stay at SoHo
In our article, areas to stay in New York, we already spoke about the charm of sleeping in SoHo. A unique place where you can feel the energy of the architecture and the streets at any time of day. For a place to stay, we reccommend the Hotel Mercer, with loft style rooms and videogames.