Commanding among the highest real estate prices in the city, SoHo's current popularity was driven by 1960s artists who sought out the area's largely abandoned manufacturing loft buildings for their large spaces, great light and cheap price tags. At the same time, preservationists recognized the area's important collection of cast-iron architecture and moved to save it from a proposed crosstown expressway that would've leveled neighborhood. The city designated the SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District in 1973, and the area's popularity and reputation has been growing ever since.
Circumscribed by Houston Street, Crosby Street, Canal Street and Sixth Avenue, SoHo's streets have a dramatic, frozen-in-time feel thanks to entire block fronts lined with cast-iron buildings. Historic loft buildings offer expansive, open plan living spaces alongside period details like large factory windows and original columns, while a handful of new developments offer top-of-the-line finishes and amenities. Throughout the district, streets are narrow and cobblestoned. While charming, the vast number of national retailers, chic boutiques and trendy restaurants and bars, draws an immense amount of foot and vehicular traffic, making it a beautiful, but busy, enclave.
With new development limited by the historic district designation, SoHo's persistent cachet is rubbing off on its neighbors to the east and west. The formerly nondescript Hudson Square neighborhood to the west is gaining new life as a media and advertising center, and luxury new development and conversion activity is on the uptick. The northern part of Little Italy, rebranded as Nolita, is welcoming a number of chic new developments, which leaves the once-thriving Italian center with a couple dozen restaurants and the annual San Genarro festival.
The Broadway shopping district, running the length of SoHo from Houston to Canal, is credited with drawing a number of prized retailers, both domestic and international, to downtown Manhattan.
Children's Museum of the Arts, in Hudson Square, offers exhibits, classes and workshops to aspiring artists ages 10 months to 15 years.
Hudson River Park has revitalized 4 miles of dilapidated waterfront property along the Hudson to create a massive retreat filled with dog runs, tennis courts, skate parks and multiple play areas and athletic fields across 500 acres from Hudson Square to Midtown West.
A frequent guest star on film and television, the historic Puck Building can be found at the top of Nolita.