Once a primarily industrial neighborhood, SoHo -- or South of Houston -- boasts the greatest collection of cast-iron structures in the world, with the majority of New York City's approximately 250 cast-iron buildings situated in SoHo. A onetime haven for artists, SoHo -- which is bounded by Houston Street, Canal Street, Crosby Street and Sixth Avenue -- is now a fully commercialized ultra-high-end neighborhood, home to global designer boutiques and stores.
Now in its second renaissance, SoHo first rose to prominence in the mid-19th century as a commercial and nightlife hub, home to grand hotels, theaters and shopping. Over the ensuing years, small manufacturers and then larger textile companies and dry-goods wholesalers moved into the neighborhood, driving out much of the residential population. By the 1950s, the area was left largely abandoned, save for various gas stations, auto repair shops and garages.
SoHo's transformation into a vibrant residential neighborhood first began in the 1970s, when artists started living and working in the area's former industrial buildings, revitalizing the once-derelict neighborhood. Though many galleries eventually relocated to the more affordable far west Chelsea, SoHo is still a popular live/work area for artists, many of whom either own their lofts or are afforded protections through city regulations.
Today, SoHo is one of the most fashionable and highly desirable neighborhoods of the city, prized for its historic architecture and large loft spaces, as well as proximity to trendy stores, boutiques and restaurants. In addition to residential conversions of historic buildings, SoHo is also regarded for its architecturally significant modern buildings, including 40 Mercer Street, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, and SoHo Mews and 311 West Broadway, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates.
SoHo and NoHo are served by multiple subway lines including the B, D, F and M trains at Broadway/Lafayette, the N and R trains at Prince Street, the C and E trains at Spring Street, and 6 train at Bleecker and Astor streets.