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What to Do in SoHo NYC

And Why You Must Visit

Updated: November 20, 2023
 By Courtney

With its many tourist attractions, as well as its cool vibe and gorgeous cast-iron architecture, SoHo is definitely worth visiting!

And, this post is a guide to things to do in SoHo, including where to eat, shop, and see art.

I also include a sample itinerary, family-friendly activities, and things to do at night.

To write this post, I relied on the extensive experiences that I and my fellow local tour guides of Free Tours by Foot have of SoHo.

What to Do in SoHo NYC

We lead dozens of guided walking tours through the streets of SoHo every week, guiding hundreds of visitors.

And, in the video below, Tour Guide Katie takes you on a virtual walk through the neighborhood.

And we also run the popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook group.

We asked our roughly 200k members to share their pleasant surprises in SoHo.

Read what they had to say. We used some of their suggestions for this post.

Our group is made up of locals, like our tour guides, veteran NYC visitors, as well as newbies to the city.

Now, without further ado, let's get to the good stuff!

Is SoHo Worth Visiting?

With its many tourist attractions, as well as its cool vibe and gorgeous cast-iron architecture, SoHo is definitely worth visiting!

You can stroll its charming narrow, historic "cobblestone streets" (they are actually Belgium block streets) lined with art galleries.

The shopping is unrivaled and fits all budgets, with both designer boutiques and chain stores.

The food scene is interesting and there is always some kind of cultural activity to enjoy at night!

SoHo is also a fantastic neighborhood to stay in for tourists!

What Does SoHo Stand For?

SoHo stands for South of Houston Street.

The acronym was coined by Chester Rapkin, a city planning commissioner who published a report in the 1960s called “The South Houston Industrial Area”.

SoHo is located in Lower Manhattan and can be reached by multiple subway lines.

SoHo's boundaries are Houston Street in the north, Canal Street in the south, 6th Avenue in the west, and Crosby Street in the east.

Where is SoHo

How to get here:

You can use this Google Map, but how you get here depends on where you are going, as there are several subway stations scattered around SoHo. (Read about SoHo’s history below).

We visit SoHo every day on our SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown Tour as well as a few others. See our live schedule and let us take you here.

By Subway:

Several NYC subway lines run through parts of SoHo.

Subway Stations in SoHo NYC

  • C train to Spring Street Station
  • N/R trains to Prince Street Station
  • B/D/F/M to Broadway-Lafayette Station
  • 6 train to Spring Street Station
  • A/C;  J/Z, N/Q/R trains to Canal Street Station

We have 2 posts on the NYC subway that are very handy:

By Bus: M1, M20, M55

TIP: Many hop-on-hop-off tourist buses stop near SoHo.

How Much Time To Spend Here?

Give yourself at least 2 hours to stroll around, window-shop, and grab a pastry and espresso.

Our self-guided walking tour, created by one of our tour guide locals, should take you about 90 minutes if you don't stop often. You can use it for free on your phone or download our audio tour.

With shopping, popping into art galleries, and a meal, you could easily spend half or a full day in SoHo.

See our sections below on things to do, art galleries, shopping, and where to eat.

SoHo Itinerary

This itinerary can be followed in any order, depending on when you go. In the daytime, enjoy lunch, or in the evening, have dinner.

Explore the streets of SoHo. Spend an hour or two walking around admiring the beautiful architecture. Do some shopping.

Have some amazing pizza at Lombardi’s and then visit some art galleries.

In the evening, see an inexpensive musical or theatrical performance.

For an in-depth experience, check out our GPS-led audio tour you can take any time, day or night.

Here's a sample.

We also have a downloadable self-guided tour of SoHo.

Top Attractions and Activities in SoHo

Take a Sightseeing Tour

We offer a daily, pay-what-you-wish walking tour of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.

If you cannot take our tour, try our GPS-led audio tour or our free self-guided tour of SoHo any time, day or night.

Excellent4.9 Based on 2231 reviews from review us ondaniel P.daniel P. ★★★★★ Tour with John for Soho Little Italy Chinatown tour, great knowledge and humor, nice pace, highly recommended.Alisha H.Alisha H. ★★★★★ Great tour! We had so much fun and met some new people. I will definitely be doing a this again.GuyGuy ★★★★★ We've taken several tours during our vacation to NYC, had a great time in all of themMel R.Mel R. ★★★★★ Take your tour with Jon! The concept of these tours is neat. Our tour guide was enjoyable, knowledgeable and professional. We felt safe the entire time, got to see lots of major sites for the Holiday Lights tour and Jon went the extra mile to make it special by taking pictures, sharing tips and extending himself even after the tour. 10 out of 10 I'd do it again.David P.David P. ★★★★★ Great way to see the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, the Manhattan skyline and DUMBO. John was a great guide who provided lots of interesting and useful information on both the are covered by the tour and also NYC in general. Highly recommended.Michael M.Michael M. ★★★★★ The Harlem walking tour was great. Ryan is a living and walking encyclopaedia of cultural knowledge and showed us parts of the city you'd otherwise ignore.Allan B.Allan B. ★★★★★ Jon was amazing. Very knowledgeable and informative. Good sense of humor! Picked appropriate spot to stop for a quick break!Raluca MRaluca M ★★★★★ I enjoyed a very nice guided tour of SoHo, Little Italy and ChinaTown with John. He is a great story teller with history facts, true stories and very attentive to the whole group. Thanks a lot!Helen C.Helen C. ★★★★★ Harlem walking tour was excellent.Lady Altoviese is a wonderful guide with so much history to share, learnt a lot!Toni R.Toni R. ★★★★★ I love these walking tours! I've been to 4 so far! Everyone is extremely nice and so much to learn! Thanks John G 🙂Gillian B.Gillian B. ★★★★★ What a fabulous find! Thank you John for a wonderful Brooklyn Bridge/DUMBO tour. Will definitely recommend!!Anand K.Anand K. ★★★★★ Did multiple tours across newyork and loved them all. The hosts are knowledgeable entertaining and give you the right start to your tripBrooklyn - John was an amazing guide with interesting stories narrated in the.most engaging manner.Harlem - Loved tge passion and energy of our host Alta....she mad stories from the past relevant, fun, real and easy to relate to.Alan B.Alan B. ★★★★★ Fantastic tour with Jon. His knowledge and dry sense of humour made the tour an absolute highlight of our New York trip. Will definitely search him out on our next visitKerry C.Kerry C. ★★★★★ I recently discovered Free Tours by Foot and I have taken 2 tours. I did a food tour of Greenwich Villlage with Mary and my whole family did a tour of Lower Manhattan with Renee. Both tours were very interesting. Mary did a great job incorporating the history with the food. Renee did a great job of basing her tour on the interest of the participants and engaged the kids. My 10 year old son said he loved the Lower Manhattan tour. I also loved the fact that neither tour guide begged for tips. We will definitely look for tours in Other cities we vsist!Markus H.Markus H. ★★★★★ Many thanks to Renee for an interesting and humorous morning.Tasmin D.Tasmin D. ★★★★★ Our Tour Guide John Gallagher was so informative and friendly. I learnt so much about New York City and the history of Brooklyn. The scenery at that time of day was spectacular. John gave great tips on more things to see in the city and good places to eat after the tour had finished. i will be booking another tour with Free Tours by Foot due to this great experience. It was great to have a tour with a local who really knows the city.John M.John M. ★★★★★ Great tour with John Gallagher around Grand Central. Added so much in explaining not just what was there, but why it was there as well as the building’s history. Well worth booking a tour. Also, his twilight Brooklyn tour is just as good!JamieJamie ★★★★☆ We did the Soho, Little Italy, Chinatown tour with John Gallagher. We enjoyed our tour & learned some interesting facts. John was witty & did his best to engage with everyone on the tour, even though it was large. Our only suggestion would be to eliminate one of the two food stops as we would have preferred to hear more instead of stop & take time out to eat when it wasn't even lunch time (tour is over by 12:15p). The first food stop was also a restroom stop so our suggestion would be to eliminate the second. Otherwise, a fun, enjoyable tour that we would recommend!Eliot M.Eliot M. ★★★★★ Great walking tour of Brooklyn Bridge and parts of Brooklyn, with nice suggestions for more things to do after.Subhasish B.Subhasish B. ★★★★★ We did the Greenwich Village food tour which was a fun medley of architectural/historical facts and food stops. I appreciated that I could partake in this experience as a vegetarian.Thais M.Thais M. ★★★★★ The tour was amazing. Renée was fun and informative.Nick R.Nick R. ★★★★★ Ron who did the Highline tour was terrific. Very kind and nice man who made a huge effortMichael W.Michael W. ★★★★★ Thanks to John we got a lot of interesting information about this beautiful place, Grand Central Terminal. The tour of this historic building was very impressive and we also received useful information about our stay in New Yorkmarillokmarillok ★★★★★ Robert W.Robert W. ★★★★★ John Gallagher took us to one of the best Brooklyn bridge sunset photo experiences!! Highly recommendHelene C.Helene C. ★★★★★ Jon was a great guide and all the food was great. I highly recommend this tour!dayle D.dayle D. ★★★★★ Our lower east side food tour with Jon yesterday was fantastic! Truly the best tour we have taken anywhere. He's informative, funny, the food stops were delicious and generous. I so appreciated that he used a microphone also. Could hear every word even on the noisy streets. Free tours by foot is a great company. Thank you.Caroline L.Caroline L. ★★★★★ Excellent Brooklyn tour with John Gallagher ! Full of informations, fun and beautiful surprises 🙂 thank you so much !Elisabeth W.Elisabeth W. ★★★★★ Becky I.Becky I. ★★★★★ My husband and I have completed many walking tours. The tour of Grand Central Station with John Gallagher was excellant and was one of our favorites. 5 stars from a couple from Philadelphia visitng NYC.Emmanuelle C.Emmanuelle C. ★★★★★ We had a great time and learnt a lot about the history of the city with Jon today, many thanks!karlakarla ★★★★★ We took the Brooklyn bridge twilight tour in April and it was excellent! Our guide Meredith really knew her stuff, told us a lot of interesting facts (especially about the tragic story surrounding the bridge, but also more) and was able to answer most of our questions. Would definitely recommend!We also took the Harlem walking tour with Ryan and I’ve rarely learned that much in such a short time - about the history, culture and architecture of Harlem, but also of NYC as a whole - he really managed to make it all come together. Extremely informative and enjoyable!Rubi S.Rubi S. ★★★★★ Hubby and I took a tour with John Gallagher through SOHO, Little Italy, and Chinatown. John is a fabulous tour guide and provided plenty of history and information about the area with colorful stories and plenty of personality. We love Free Tours by Foot and have taken many not only in NYC but San Francisco, and Boston. We highly recommend them to all our friends. Bring your walking shoes, $5 for delicious fried dumplings, and get ready to enjoy. Tip generously, these guys are worth it.Daniel T.Daniel T. ★★★★★ I always love doing a walking tour in a new city, our Tour of New York (little italy, Soho and china town) did not disappoint! Our tour guide John was super knowledge and funny. I felt that I got a really authentic and unique experience of New York. Would 100% recommendBob L.Bob L. ★★★★★ My wife and I did the tour of Soho, Chinatown and Little Italy on October 21st with John Gallagher as the tour guide, and enjoyed every minute of it.John was informative and entertaining and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide. I would highly recommend this tour!Tanya S.Tanya S. ★★★★★ A wonderful morning crossing the Brooklyn bridge, touring DUMBO and scaling the Brooklyn Heights! Tour was super informative and lead by the wonderful guide Renee! The information was interesting and relative! Tour flowed well and 3 1/2 hours went in a blink of an eye! One of the best tours we have taken, and not just in NYC! You won’t be disappointed!Rebecca O.Rebecca O. ★★★★★ LOVED John's Grand Central Station Tour, it was a highlight of my trip. He was informative, the tour clipped along, we saw some of the other surrounding buildings (which felt like a bonus). He is a true New Yorker and I am so glad we decided to join this tour last minute!Matthew S.Matthew S. ★★★★★ Really enjoyed the Lower East Side food tour with Jon Noto. Super knowledgeable, learnt loads. Highly recommend!Martin W.Martin W. ★★★★★ Jon does an awesome tour, perfectly mixing sights, history and tastes with a humorous twist. Great value for money. Would happily do it all over againximena A.ximena A. ★★★★★ Took a tour of grand central station with John and it was great! He was so knowledgeable about everything we were being shown and it was a fun way to see this New York City staple. Will definitely be taking more tours!Cathy S.Cathy S. ★★★★★ I would award more than 5* if I could. We were so happy to be on our 2nd tour with John Gallagher. He was very enjoyable, and while he was a walking encyclopedia of NY knowledge, he was also very entertaining with stories and advice as a New Yorker… and offered suggestions for more sight-seeing that we enjoyed later. We learned so much and look forward to our next tour! Thanks, John!! Spencer groupKIM D.KIM D. ★★★★★ What a wonderful way to spend a few hours in a part of Manhattan that holds so much history. Jon was our tour guide and was a very seasoned guide- working his mic to accommodate the fluctuating noises of the city (trucks, ambulances, no- mic zones, etc). His knowledge was vast! The history, the stories, the jokes, … all very articulately delivered. Jon is a guy who is born to serve. It is evident that he enjoys his work and enjoys helping people.I would def recommend this tour. Having been to NYC many times, it’s a nice way of filling in some gaps- learning about the stories and history that makes up this great city.Enjoy!J M.J M. ★★★★★ We have done these tours in multiple cities and always find they are great.While in Manhattan our group did two tours with John Gallagher. Communication was timely with good instructions and John greets each person as they arrive. He is a NYC fact machine !! He does a fantastic job of giving historical and interesting stories about the locations. John also plans the stops shade, cover if it raining, restroom stops, snacks and gives suggestions for restaurants in the area.Laura GLaura G ★★★★★ To date, I have done two tours with Free Tours by Foot, and I recommend them wholeheartedly!First, I had a fantastic tour of Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo, with our guide Renée. She was extremely knowledgeable and took us on a very interesting journey. Thank you very much!Then, I did an awesome tour of SoHo, China Town and Little Italy with Jon. He was very nice, funny, and knowledgeable, bringing us on a tour definitely worth doing! He also gave us great recommendations of where to eat, which were much appreciated. Many thanks!!Mike Google L.Mike Google L. ★★★★★ Jon was our guide in the Lower East Side walking and food tour. He was knowledgeable, funny and patient with our large group. Jon showed us very interesting sites and shared facts that we never would have seen. The food was great and we all had fun and full tummies too.Radiana D.Radiana D. ★★★★★ Hi, I don’t have enough words to thank John Gallagher for the excellent tour on Sunday, October 22! Caring, intelligent, funny, entertaining! John, from now on, every time when I pass Grand central I will smile with great memories and knowledge!The best tour guide ever!Thank you!Claudia Baquero J.Claudia Baquero J. ★★★★★ I loved this tour, the guide knows a lot about the city, and likes to tell many details, and he was super friendly.Excellent for those who want to know more about the history of the city, from BrooklynWe were lucky to do it on a day with perfect weather!I highly recommend it.John Gallagher, was super cool and nice.Richard N.Richard N. ★★★★★ Superb twilight walk over The Brooklyn Bridge.John was a great guide and very interesting on the bridge and Brooklyn Heights.Many nationalities and John was interested in all - particularly The Irish- as his ancestors were from County Donegal.Superb sunset views from promenade.Would highly recommend this tour and particularly John.Ce B.Ce B. ★★★★★ I`ve just completed both Harlem and LES food tour, I cannot recommend these tours enough. Great guides (Ryan and Jon), great content, funny and entertained. Would give 10 stars if possible!Blair M.Blair M. ★★★★★ A wonderful experience with John Joseph Gallagher on the Brooklyn Bridge DUMBO walking tour. John has an incredible knowledge of the history of the founding of New York and stories of people who made history in New York. His stories of the struggles of the poor Brooklyn residents who built the Bridge under horrific circumstance were quite poignant! The stories of the Underground Railroad and the terrible circumstances of American Blacks trying to flee to Canada really made an emotional impact on me. Truman Capote's apartment astounded me! His knowledge of Brooklyn Heights " bohemian" residents and also celebrities who still live there was utterly fascinating. His knowledge of food was impressive! Highly recommended! We will do another tour Soho Greenwich Highline tomorrow. Blair, Guy and Susan from Canada.js_loader

We also have a SoHo and Nolita Shopping Tour. For shopping suggestions, see below.

There are other paid tours of SoHo that may interest you, such as a photography tour or a pizza tour, and some are free with tourist passes.

Admire the Cast-Iron Architecture

SoHo is known worldwide for its beautiful, impressive cast-iron buildings.

With over 200 cast-iron buildings in the district, SoHo's Cast Iron District has the largest concentration of these buildings than anywhere else in the world.

Haughwout Building SoHo

Learn more about Soho’s cast-iron architecture from our GPS-led audio tour or our downloadable Self-Guided Tour of SoHo.

See Great Street Art

New York is known for its great street art.

SoHo is one of the top neighborhoods to see both permanent works of street art as well as random spray-paint art and sticker art.

Manhattan Street Art Tour

Keep your eyes open while walking around SoHo as its sidewalks, building exteriors, and even lamp posts are covered with artistic surprises.

To see the best examples of street art, consider taking our Manhattan Street Art Tour, a 2-hour tour that includes the SoHo neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods.

We showcase the hidden street art that you just might walk by without noticing.

Visit Art Galleries

There are too many galleries in SoHo, NY to list them all. We do have a list below of some of the best galleries to visit.

If you walk along West Broadway between Houston Street and Spring Street, you'll find close to a dozen art galleries to pop into.

A must-see is The Earth Room. It's best described in pictures than words!

Here are some others we recommend:

For even more ways to see great art for free, read our post on free museums, as well as our guide to free things to do in NYC.

Grab a Bite at the Storied Fanelli Café

Located at 94 Prince Street, the land Fanelli’s sits on can be traced back to 1644.

With many owners of the centuries, the Fanelli family purchased the business at 94 Prince in 1920.

Fanelli Cafe

During Prohibition, Fanelli’s was a ‘speakeasy’. Today you can have a drink there without breaking the law!

Note: The Fanelli Cafe is a stop on our self-guided tour of historic bars of NYC.

Experience the Cronut

Dominique Ansel Bakery at 189 Spring Street is the birthplace of the world-famous Cronut, a croissant-doughnut hybrid.

Created in 2013, this unique pastry innovation is trademarked by its creator, Dominique Ansel and pastry fans around the world have made it the most virally talked about dessert item in history.

If you want to try one, you’ll have to get there early, since they sell out fast!

For recommendations on other places to eat in SoHo, see the restaurant section in this post below.

For Kids

Museum of Ice Cream

This is not your average museum! Spread out across 25,000 square feet over three floors, the Museum of Ice Cream is all about delighting your senses. 

Jump in the Sprinkle Pool – a swimming pool filled with ice cream sprinkles! Slide down a 3-story slide to get unlimited ice cream in different shapes and flavors!

This museum will make your kids happy campers - and if you like ice cream, you’ll be pretty happy yourself!

Sloomoo Institute

What kid doesn’t love slime? At the Sloomoo Institute, your kids can explore 8,000 square feet of interactive experiences all related to slime. 

They can sink their hands in more than 30 vats of scented slime, take a slime shower, design their own slime and much, much more!

Children's Museum of the Arts

A wonderful interactive museum featuring a clay bar, media room, and more. Open 10 am - 5 pm. It is free on Thursdays.

TIP: Read our post on free museums for more kid-friendly museums that won't cost you a thing.

The New York City Fire Museum

This unique NYC museum strives to educate the public about the history and cultural heritage of the fire service of NYC.

Many of the exhibits are geared toward fire prevention and safety education to the public, especially children.

Kids can play with fire equipment dating back to the 1800s!

The museum is open 7 days a week (except major holidays): 10 am-5 pm

Tickets: $10 Adults | $5 Children | $8 Students, Seniors, Firefighters, AAA members (with ID) | Free for children under 2.

Vesuvio Playground

Lots of climbing structures, plenty of swings, and in warm weather a 3’ (1 m) pool and sprinklers.

See our master list of things to do with kids in NYC for dozens of activities, playgrounds, museums, attractions, and more that are kid-friendly.

Movie and TV Locations in SoHo

Many movies and TV shows have been filmed in SoHo. Here are two of the most famous:

Ghost - 102 Prince Street  This is where Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, and Whoopi Goldberg filmed the 1990 movie Ghost.

Sex and the City - Louis K. Meisel Gallery at 141 Prince Street.

This gallery was used as the art gallery in which the character Charlotte worked.

TIP: Die-hard SATC fans, check out our Sex and the City self-guided tour and how to visit Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.

Things to Do at Night


SoHo has several places where you can see inexpensive Off-Broadway theater.

  • SoHo Playhouse - quality theater for reasonable prices
  • HERE - hybrid live performances in theatre, dance, music, puppetry, media, and visual art.

Be sure to check our post about how to get discount tickets on Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and plays.


  • Film Forum - independent films as well as classics. Fantastic retrospectives
  • Angelika Film Center - screens well-known independent movies

Live Music

  • City Winery -  A full-service restaurant and winery that also has live performances.
  • Bowery Ballroom - Though east of SoHo in NoLita, it's worth checking out for top alternative bands.
  • Ear Inn - Live music here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. Ear Inn is a stop on our self-guided historic bars of NYC tour.

Bars and Lounges

From designer cocktails to bars with free shots and craft beer, you can find a lot in SoHo.

  • Crosby Bar - an elegant bar in the Crosby Street Hotel
  • Botanica Bar - a basement bar with live music
  • JIMMY - a rooftop lounge with a great view

Check out our post on other things to do at night in NYC.

Restaurants and Other Places To Eat

The dining options listed below are all family-friendly, though the menus at high-end, expensive restaurants may not be ideal for most children.

Ben's Pizza SoHo

Inexpensive $

  • Ben's Pizza - corner of Thompson and Spring. (Scenes from Men in Black II were filmed here!)
  • Chobani Shop - 152 Prince St. Mediterranean yogurt bar from the Chobani brand.
  • Black Burger - 386 Canal St. Great burgers, curly fries, and milkshakes. Limited seating but you can take your food to go and sit on a bench in nearby Duarte Square.

Moderate $$

  • Dean & Deluca  - 560 Broadway. A true SoHo original, Dean & Deluca opened in 1977. They sell sandwiches, salads, and fresh fruits.
  • Lombardi’s - 32 Spring Street at the corner of Mott Street. The perfect way to finish your tour of SoHo is to eat at America’s very first pizzeria. Lombardi’s serves only pies and is CASH ONLY. It is very much worth it!
  • Cupping Room Cafe - 359 W Broadway. Comfy atmosphere for sandwiches, salads, and especially good brunches.

Expensive $$$

  • Balthazar - 80 Spring St. Worth the splurge for their seafood bar and steak frites. Also, croissants to die for. They are also known for a great brunch.
  • MAMO - 323 W Broadway. Upscale, yummy pasta, and other Italian classics.
  • Blue Ribbon Brasserie - 97 Sullivan St. New and traditional American prepared at the highest quality.

Pastries and Desserts

Shopping in SoHo

Shops along the narrow streets of SoHo are mostly fashion designer stores with hefty price tags.

You can find Chloe, Miu Miu, Diane von Furstenberg, Moschino, and many many more.

If you are interested in high-quality products from independent merchants, try our SoHo and Nolita Shopping Tour.

Broadway between Houston and Canal is lined with clothing shops and has dozens of stores to get the latest and trendiest sneakers and shoes at reasonable prices.

See our long list and map of familiar chain stores below.

Some unique shops to check out are:

MoMA Design Store - 81 Spring Street

Creative and innovative products, some practical, like bags, glasses, and household items - all with a unique design.

They also carry knick-knacks, clothes, and jewelry. Of course, art books and posters can be found here.

TIP: Find out how to visit the Museum of Modern Art for free or at a discount here.

Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe - 126 Crosby St

Housing Works Bookstore is more than a bookstore. Its mission since opening has been to fight the dual crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS. 

Every item in this large shop is donated, and 100% of profits go to fund Housing Works' lifesaving services.

The bookstore has a fantastic selection and the cafe is a fun place to relax or enjoy a free and low-cost event offered throughout the week.

The Evolution Store - 687 Broadway

A most unusual store filled to the brim with natural history collectibles, and artifacts, like framed butterflies and insects, fossils, skeletons, and seashells, all beautifully kept.

Kids will find this store fascinating.

MUJI SoHo - 455 Broadway

Popular Japanese retailer with minimalist products, from stationery, travel gear, and clothing including apparel & home goods. Affordable and fun.

Apple Store  - 103 Prince Street

Stop in to recharge your phone, use their free WiFi, or use their restroom. Or just sit and relax for a while.

Chain Stores

  • Adidas Originals Flagship Store
  • AEO & Aerie Store
  • Aldo
  • AllSaints
  • Banana Republic
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Club Monaco Soho
  • Converse Flagship Store
  • Desigual New York Soho
  • Express
  • Forever 21
  • Gap
  • H&M
  • J. Crew Men
  • Lacoste
  • Lady Foot Locker/Foot Locker
  • Levi's
  • Lucky Brand
  • Lululemon
  • Lululemon Men's
  • MAC Cosmetics
  • Madewell
  • Nike
  • Old Navy
  • Rag & Bone
  • REI
  • Sephora
  • Skechers
  • Steve Madden
  • Superdry
  • The North Face
  • Timberland
  • Top Shop
  • Uniqlo
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Victoria's Secret
  • Zara

History of SoHo

The land encompassing modern-day SoHo was marsh and forest land until Dutch Settlers established farms in the area in the 1640s.

An early Dutch map, the Manatus Map of 1639, shows plantations, roads, and structures in this area. A large portion of the land was owned during the 1660s by Augustus Herrman.

When he died, his brother-in-law, Nicholas Bayard, inherited the property, making him the largest landowner in Manhattan. (Bayard Street in Chinatown is named after Bayard).

By the late 1700s, large farms were being sold and subdivided in response to the growing population and urbanization of the City.

In the early 1800s, Broadway was paved and wealthier residents of the city began to build homes in the area to escape the increasingly crowded lower part of Manhattan.

By the 1850s and 60s, many fashionable hotels such as the famous St. Nicholas and premier department stores such as Tiffany’s, Lord & Taylor and Brooks Brothers had opened up.

Theaters and casinos sprang up along Broadway and the area became a hub of nightlife while the side streets were lined with expensive brothels.

In the 1870s and 1880s, the streets to the east and west of Broadway underwent a dramatic change when industry came to town.

This explosion of commercial activity prompted wealthy residents to flee the area and move further north of Manhattan.

Industrial growth also prompted the widespread use of cast iron to erect new factories in the district.

Approximately 250 cast-iron buildings stand in New York City and the majority of them are in SoHo.

It is these cast-iron buildings that give SoHo its distinct and stunning appearance.

Cast iron was an American architectural innovation and was cheaper to use for facades of buildings than stone or brick.

Cast iron is also pliable and easily molded so architects and builders could create intricately designed patterns in the Classical French and Italian styles while saving money.

In fact, many of the stone columns you will see on the ground level of cast-iron buildings are in fact cast iron painted to resemble stone.

Another advantage of cast iron that led to major changes in how buildings were made (and ultimately altered who and what resided in the neighborhood) was its strength.

The stronger construction allowed for window frames to be taller allowing for more sunlight into the interior of the buildings.

This was ideal for factories and industrial companies which benefited from this free source of lighting.

It was the advent of steel as a major construction material that brought an end to the cast-iron era.

Not only did cast iron disappear, but so did the higher-quality industry. From the 1910s to 1950s, SoHo’s beautiful buildings housed cheap, wholesale textile companies known as the "rag trade”.

Many factories illegally employed minors and immigrants for little pay to work in horrendous conditions known as ‘sweatshops’.

Numerous fires broke out in these factories and SoHo gained the nickname “Hell’s Hundred Acres.”  

Eventually, even these factories shut down and moved elsewhere in the city and SoHo became an abandoned industrial wasteland.

By the late 1960s unknown artists just starting their careers, cheap rents, huge spaces, and great light, made these former factories attractive.

Some of the first artists to move into SoHo were Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, and Carl Andre.

Other up-and-coming artists flocked to SoHo like Andy Warhol, Jean- Michel Basquiat and street artist Keith Haring and this urban wasteland became a hip, avant-garde destination.

It’s estimated that SoHo was home to about 2,000 artists by the early 1970s and by 1973 there were 33 art galleries.

The area had become so run-down and empty that city officials began discussions of the construction of a lower Manhattan expressway that came to be known as the LOMEX project.

LOMEX would have ripped through much of the heart of lower Manhattan and the historic buildings of SoHo would be demolished to make way for new housing construction.

Historic preservationists began to petition for SoHo to be designated as a protected historic district and in 1973, the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District was created.

You can tell which streets are included in the district as they have brown street signs rather than the normal green signs.

SoHo’s significance in history has also been recognized nationally as it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

By the mid-1970s the enormous size of the lofts and the charm of the narrow streets paved with Belgium blocks and lined with gorgeous buildings invited real estate developers to buy up buildings and rent prices skyrocketed.

By the mid-1980s, designer boutiques, chic restaurants, and art galleries opened and SoHo remains a fashion and art capital of the world.

Today, SoHo is one of the top travel destinations in the world. It is definitely a neighborhood you do not want to miss in NYC.

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About The Author


Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: November 20th, 2023
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