The popular arty area of the seventies and eighties grew into one of the leading shopping districts in New York City. SoHo (an acronym for South of Houston Street) still features galleries, but these days the work inside them tends toward the more high-end commercial — reflecting the area’s luxury boutiques and outposts of independent designers. Take a break with a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants in the area, or a cocktail at one of its chic boutique hotels, after you have had your dose of retail therapy.
Different sources also provide different boundaries for each neighborhood in NYC due to the complexity of these neighborhoods. In the case of SoHo, it seems that both sources agree that Houston Street is the northern border and Canal Street the southern border, but the eastern and west border are in question.
At the time of the colonial period, the property that is now SoHo was part of a grant to the freed slaves of the German West Indies Company for farmland, and was the site of the first free Black settlement on the island of Manhattan. This property had been purchased by Augustine Hermann in the 1660’s and later sold to his brother-in – law Nicholas Bayard. Natural obstacles, streams and hills, prevented the city’ s northward expansion into the Bayard estate during the 18th century and the region retained its rural nature. The area was the site of many fortifications, redoubts, and branches during the American Revolution. Following the war, Bayard, who suffered financially as a result, was forced to mortgage some of the property.
The serious development of the region did not start until the Common Council replied to the landowners’ complaints and drained the Collect Pond, formerly a major water source on the island, that was polluted and listed and a mosquito breeding ground. The canal and the reservoir were then filled by land in the adjacent Bayard’s Hill. After Broadway was paved and sidewalks constructed there, more residents started constructing their own homes along Canal Street and joined early settlers including James Fennimore Cooper.
In 2005 residential buildings were allowed to be constructed on vacant land in the historic district. However, the area started to attract more wealthy people without enforcing the new city zoning laws in a manner later applied elsewhere, starting in the 1980s. In addition to many of the artists belonging to their cooperatives, many of the original founding artists stayed amid the common misconception that gentilization compelled them to leave because of their rental rights and the security provided by Loft Law in 1982. For decades, many people have lived in the area. This shift has been brought to bear by the location of SoHo, its appeal as live space, its architecture and its reputation as a haven for artists. Throughout the 1970s, SoHo became a backwater of poor artists and small factories and became a popular tourist destination for people who look to trendy clothes and beautiful architecture, and for some of the most expensive real estate in the city. This trend of gentrification is usually known as the SoHo Effect, and has been observed elsewhere in the United States.
Soho’s chains are found along Broadway and Prince and Spring Streets in the northern part of the neighborhood. There are also many tourists on the sidewalks in this area and vendors selling jewelries, t-shirts and other products. SoHo is known for its marketing and diverse retail mix – while it had double the number of department stores in 2010, as were shops and three times the number of shops as well as art galleries.