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    SoHo in New York: the Cast Iron District

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    Lluis Enric Mayans
    @lluisenricmayans
    SOURCES CONSULTED:

    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    The many districts of New York are a bit like small towns within the big metropolis, each with a distinct identity, and SoHo is no exception. To distinguish this area are the characteristic cast iron and red brick buildings with fire escapes outside, typical structures of the Big Apple immortalized in many films and which have now become the object of desire of many VIPs who have taken up residence in the many lofts of the district.


    SoHo has also been a pilgrimage destination for important artists since the 70s and the many art galleries you will encounter while walking are there to remind you that that artistic past is still alive, but SoHo is above all the shopping district in New York, where the shops of the big names gather in a sort of minor version of Fifth Avenue.


    If the budget is out of reach, strolling along the streets of the district observing the always well-set up shop windows is still a pleasant experience; in the evening, SoHo lights up, offering numerous places to have fun and savor the nightlife new Yorker.

    Index

    • Where is SoHo and the meaning of the name
    • How to get to the Soho neighborhood
    • What to see in SoHo: walk along the main places of interest
      • Cast Iron District and surrounding area: on the hunt for historic buildings
      • Shops and places for shopping
      • Art galleries and art installations
      • Churches and Museums
      • Night clubs
    • Where to eat: recommended restaurants
    • Where to sleep in SoHo

    Where is SoHo and the meaning of the name

    The SoHo neighborhood identifies the area it extends to South of Houston Street (hence the name, which derives from South Of Houston Street) to Canal Street, bordered to the east by Crosby Street and to the west by Sixth Avenue or (according to some) by the Hudson River (the boundaries of New York neighborhoods are not always defined clearly and unambiguously). The district is located in the Lower Manhattan area and is bordered to the south with Tribeca, to the east with Little Italy and Nolita (North of Little Italy), to the north with NoHo (North of Houston Street) and Greenwich Village,



    How to get to the Soho neighborhood

    There are a series of metro stops which, due to their location, seem to almost "surround" the borders of the SoHo district:

    • Broadway-Lafayette St: linee D, F, M
    • Prince Street: N, Q, R W
    • Canal Street Subway Station: N, Q, R, W
    • Canal Street Station: A, C, E
    • Spring Street: C, E

    Among these, to explore the nerve center of the neighborhood and most of the attractions described in this article, I recommend going down to Prince Street.

    For details on the operation of the subway, I refer you to our guide on how to use the subway in New York.

    What to see in SoHo: walk along the main places of interest

    In the map below you will find all the attractions described in the article with the respective icon according to the category of interest (buildings, restaurants, nightclubs, shops, etc.). I recommend that you use it to orient yourself during your walk in the neighborhood.

    Cast Iron District and surrounding area: on the hunt for historic buildings

    The most characteristic area of ​​SoHo is that of the so-called Cast Iron District, where the main cast iron buildings are located, many of which are finely made and interesting from a historical point of view. The best way to see these buildings is undoubtedly Greene Street, main street of SoHo along with Prince Street, Spring Street and West Broadway Street.


    Along Greene Street you will find:

    • 139 Greene St: Anthony Arnoux House: in reality it is not a cast iron building but a historic red brick house dating back to 1825 and belonging to a merchant. Passing by, give it a quick look!
    • Intersection with Prince Street: at this intersection there are some points of interest to observe:
      • 112 Prince St: you will find the Trompe L'Oeil wall by Richard Hass, an immense mural that reproduces the appearance of a typical SoHo building giving the illusion of being a royal palace. If you are interested in the genre, know that Hass has made several works of this type in other cities as well.
      • 109 Prince Street: right in front of the mural is one of the most elegant historic buildings on the street at the corner of Prince Street. It was built in 1882 by Jarvis Morgan Slade and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
      • 102 Prince St: are you ready for a cinematic amarcord? A few steps from the Richard Hass mural, the lovers of film Ghost they will jump, recognizing the beautiful building where Sam and Molly lived.
      • 110 Greene St: a few more steps past the intersection and you will find the SoHo Building, consisting of the union of 2 buildings, the first from 1908 and the second from 1920, commissioned by a well-known New York merchant. At the foot of the building is the Floating Subway Map, an 87-foot-long work made of concrete rods set into the pavement, created by Belgian artist Francoise Schein in 1986. The map reproduces the layout of the New York subway as it was structured at the time.
    • 72 Greene St: This work by Isaac F. Duckworth, which has many other cast iron buildings around it, is one of the historic buildings that best represent the French Renaissance style of SoHo. The property, the flagship jewel of the Cast Iron District, is known as King of Greene Street and, as we are about to see, she is not far from her better half ...
    • 28 Greene St: another masterpiece by Duckworth himself, this other cast iron palace built in 1873 has indeed earned the title of Queen of Greene Street!



    Moving around you can have fun finding many other interesting buildings, here is a list of what is only a small part of what awaits you:

    • 451 Broome St: The Silk Exchange Building (1895)
    • 488-492 Broadway: Haughwout Building (1857)
    • 561 Broadway: The Little Singer Building (1904)
    • 469 Broome St: The Gunther Building (1871)
    • 80 Wooster St: Fluxhouse Cooperative (1895)
    • 421 Broome St: Palazzo dove abitò Heath Ledger
    Are you interested in early XNUMXth century architecture in New York?

    Here is a skyscraper you can't miss: the Woolworth Building!

    Shops and places for shopping

    Wondering where to shop in New York? As mentioned, SoHo is the perfect neighborhood to stroll in between elegant shop windows and designer shops, a sort of re-edition of Fifth Avenue, so much so as to re-propose the main brands, such as Tiffany, Apple, Dior, Banana Republic, Nike, Victoria's Secret PINK, Adidas, all located around Greene Street.

    Shopping in these shops it could put a strain on your wallet, however, if you are not satisfied with a simple stroll through the windows, in SoHo it is not impossible to find places at more digestible prices where to take a souvenir for relatives and friends; some examples? My advice is to go to the MoMA Design Store, on Spring Street, an excellent receptacle for particular objects, inspired by art and design; it will not be difficult to find an original gift!

    Alternatively, it may be a good idea to rummage through the always numerous stalls of street vendors on the street ...

    Art galleries and art installations

    Between the 60s and 70s, the many vacant lofts in the neighborhood attracted a large number of artists, intent on exploiting the large spaces and natural light that penetrated from the large windows of these premises for their works. Today in SoHo there are still many art galleries, among which it is worth mentioning:


    • Franklin Bowles Gallery, which boasts, among other things, a remarkable collection of French paintings of the nineteenth century and some sketches by Rembrandt
    • Louis K. Meisel Gallery, whose specialization are photorealism and contemporary realism
    • The Earth Room, a modernist installation from 1977 by Land Art exponent Walter De Maria, which filled an entire floor of a building with earth
    • The Drawing Center: the only non-profit institution in the States to deal exclusively with historical and contemporary designs

    Churches and Museums

    Those who come to SoHo usually don't go looking for churches or museums (at least they are not art galleries) but this neighborhood also has something interesting to offer in this area. These are 3 attractions that are rather out of the way (especially the second and third) compared to the nerve center of the neighborhood, however you can consider them for a more complete knowledge of the area.

    • Shrine Church of St Anthony of Padua: the second Italian parish founded in the United States as well as the oldest in New York.
    • New York Fire Museum: collection of artifacts, gears, means of transport and historical appliances used by firefighters since the XNUMXth century.
    • Children Museum of Art: a museum where your children can try their hand at art by becoming expert artists themselves!

    Night clubs

    If you want to savor some SoHo nightlife, know that in this neighborhood the nightlife not lacking and the places to choose from are not few. Consider these 2:

    • Jimmy at the James: at the James Hotel there is a suggestive panoramic terrace from which to sip a good drink while admiring the Freedom Tower and the other skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline. If you happen to be in the winter, the terrace is closed but don't be discouraged, you can still admire the view from the interior room with full-length windows.
    • pegu club: excellent quality of cocktails and live music is the irresistible mix that attracts the customers of the Pegu Club. The food served is Asian inspired, the prices of the drinks are not low but those looking for a Mr. drink will not be disappointed.

    Where to eat: recommended restaurants

     

    The neighborhood's dining scene is very rich, a bit like in all of New York. Between French cuisine and historic venues, i SoHo restaurants they know how to conquer even the most demanding palates. Here are some tips:

    • Dominique Ansel Bakery: Here in 2013 the famous Cronut was born, a sort of hybrid between croissant and donut, an idea of ​​the pastry chef Dominique Ansel. If you want to try one, however, you will have to arrive early because these pastries are literally besieged and sell out quickly.
    • Dean & Deluca: D&D, so affectionately called by locals, opened here in 1977 and is now considered an important part of SoHo's history. It is not a restaurant but a kind of food / market with many quality products imported from all over the world.
    • Fanelli Café: this place is housed in a building dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, which also served as a speakeasy during the 20s (clandestine place for the sale of alcoholic beverages). Today, Fanelli is a good place to eat American cuisine in the nerve center of the neighborhood.
    • Raoul's: what is now a high-quality and high-priced French restaurant was once a bargain-priced dive shop frequented by unsavory people and run by 2 poor Frenchmen. Things have changed a lot now and, with its over 40 years of age, Raoul's has become an important piece of the neighborhood's history.
    • Balthazar: this popular French bistro with attached patisserie and bakery can be a good option for lunches, brunches and dinners, but also for a good breakfast or a fleeting coffee.

    Where to sleep in SoHo

    The SoHo area has a good number of accommodations and, in addition to the beauty of the neighborhood, it has the advantage of the location: we are in fact close to Downtown, and all its attractions are easily accessible with a few stops on the subway. In addition, with short and pleasant walks you can reach the neighboring neighborhoods of Little Italy, Greenwich Village, Tribeca and Chinatown.

    If you want to sleep in this area, I refer you to my advice on how to find accommodation in SoHo; if you prefer an overview of all the best districts to sleep in New York with recommended hotels area by area, you can click on the button below.

    My tips on where to sleep in New York

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