by Christopher Wallace, 07/30/2013 [Updated 02/24/2016]
(From left) Street sign photo by Malcolm Brown • Bloomingdale's SoHo photo by Willie Davis
Beginning in the '60s and lasting through the '90s, SoHo was the live/work playground of many of NYC's most famous artists. In the generous loft spaces, they set up studios where they painted, choreographed dances and made films. Retailers eventually followed them into the area, transforming it into the shopping hub that now holds sway.
SoHo has often been the epicenter for New York City trends, eliciting no small amount of both praise and excoriation from locals. A former manufacturing district south of Houston Street (and bounded on the east by Lafayette Street, on the west by the Hudson River and to the south by Canal Street), the neighborhood is characterized by Belgian block streets and cast iron–facade buildings with enormously high ceilings—made to accommodate manufacturing equipment—and gargantuan windows, designed to flood the floors with sunlight in the otherwise dimly lit gas-lamp days.
Today those glorious 19th-century buildings, built to accommodate the commercialization of the neighborhood during its growth as a shopping destination—when Lord & Taylor, Tiffany & Co. and the grand hotels moved in along the newly vibrant shopping thoroughfare of Broadway—are once again the domains of some of the grandest retail spaces in the world. Read on for more.