Scenes from New York: SoHo (and environs)

Crosby Street

For most of my life, Soho didn’t exist.  Oh sure, it was alive and existed as a neighborhood with the same name, but Soho hadn’t yet entered my personal NYC geography.  It was hard to get to (a lie), it was out of the way (true) and it wasn’t attractive (depends on who you ask).  The yearly voyage my dad and I made to Pearl Paint was the closest I got.  My attitude changed — I’m ashamed to admit — when Topshop opened up on Broadway and Broome.

What exactly is SoHo?  The name means ‘south of Houston.’  If you looked on a map, the boundaries would probably include from Broadway to that street and from Houston to Canal.  Yet, the area tends to absorb smaller neighborhood-lets, if you will.  It seems wrong to exclude Nolita (North of little Italy) and no one would say Crosby street belongs to a different neighborhood.

Wooster and Broome

Soho can be a fun, cool neighborhood or an explanation for everything that’s wrong with NYC.  Walk down Broadway in the middle of a summer Saturday and you’ll hate it.  Take a stroll down Greene or Wooster and you’ll feel as if you’re wandering through a New York movie. Indeed, you may be doing just that.

I love the area that maps refer to as Nolita, but I resolutely continue to call Soho.  Just pass Lafayette Street, you discover cute little streets that have a high class edge.  It’s the classic NY combination of high/low, cool/grungy and historical/new.  There’s Gimme on Mott Street, the library on Mulberry Street and Public on Elizabeth Street.


Then there’s the bit that’s to the west of Broadway completes every New York fantasy that could ever walk through your head.  The buildings are large with the air of a factory-meets-artist’s loft. There are high end stores and people walking around wearing clothing from said high end boutiques.  It’s a little crazy, not always inviting but never the less a delight to walk about.

SoHo has become the ethos of a certain type of New York.  Walking down a single street will lead you to see a native view and run into the tourist world.  The two intermingle, not always seamlessly.  It’s a little chaotic, a little confusing, but always fascinating.

Just like the city itself.

How would you describe an archetypical area of where you live?


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