Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Last Saturday, I met up with a former classmate in college. After lunch in Tribeca, we headed to SOHO and just walked around to check out the shops and the street scenes.


SOHO is an acronym for SOuth of HOuston (pronounced "how-stun") Street. This eclectic neighborhood in lower Manhattan had a long history before becoming New York City's artistic haven. The SoHo that surrounds you, with its cast-iron warehouses and cobblestone streets arose in the 1850's after the residential population moved uptown. Up rose these ornate edifices housing fabrics, china, glass and more for companies like Lord & Taylor and Tiffany's. The lower floors were designed for displays and became perfect for the art galleries to come. By the late 1900's, the fashionable businesses moved uptown and the area developed into a seedy, sweatshop-filled slum known as "hell's hundred acres." New labor laws forced the sweatshops to evacuate leaving SoHo a ghost town ripe for a revolution! Through the 1960's artists quietly moved into the abandoned buildings which provided "lofty" spaces to contain their creativity. (Even if there often was no electricity!). But by the 1970's SoHo developed into a community, transforming itself into a residential / commercial / artistic zone.

Today's SoHo is much different from the artist community of the 1970's. Loft apartments now sell in the millions, a bit more than the paintings in the art galleries. The trendiness aside, SoHo is still one of the best areas in NYC to shop, eat and just walk about.

No comments: