There are other paid tours of SoHo that may interest you, such as a photography tour or a pizza tour. TIP: Several tourist passes include free tours of SoHo. Our post on which New York City tourist pass is best can help you decide if a pass is right for you.Cast-Iron ArchitectureSoHo is known worldwide for its beautiful, impressive cast-iron buildings. With over 200 cast-iron buildings in the district, SoHo has the largest concentration of these buildings than anywhere else in the world.While in SoHo, take some time to see some of the finest examples of cast-iron buildings.You can learn more about Soho’s cast-iron architecture from our GPS-led audio tour or our Self-Guided Tour of SoHo in downloadable PDF form.See Some Street ArtNew York is known for 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.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 SoHo and nearby neighborhoods.Movie and TV Locations in SoHoMany movies and TV shows have been filmed in SoHo. Here are two of the most famous:102 Prince Street – This is where Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, and Whoopi Goldberg filmed the 1990 movie Ghost.
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.
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.
While in SoHo, take some time to see some of the finest examples of cast-iron buildings.
You can learn more about Soho’s cast-iron architecture from our GPS-led audio tour or our downloadable Self-Guided Tour of SoHo.
See Some Street Art
New York is known for 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.
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 SoHo and nearby neighborhoods.
Children’s Museum of the Arts – 103 Charlton St.
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 – 278 Spring Street
Interactive museum fire equipment dating back to the 1800s
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 – corner of Thompson and Spring Streets.
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.
There are too many galleries in SoHo to list them all. One gallery you should try to see is The Earth Room.
And if you plan of coming here, all of our Soho tours, including our free, self-guided tour, pass by.
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.
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.
SoHo has several places where you can see inexpensive Off-Broadway theater.
SoHo Playhouse – quality theater for reasonable prices
SoHo Rep – innovative contemporary theater
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.
Bars and Lounges
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
Do take a read of our post on other things to do at night in NYC.
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.
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.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Located at 189 Spring Street between Sullivan and Thompson Streets, this 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! They are open from Mondays to Saturdays from 8 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm.
For recommendations on other places to eat in SoHo, see the restaurant section in this post below.
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RESTAURANTS AND PLACES TO EAT
These are all family-friendly though the menus at the expensive restaurants may not be ideal for most children.
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.
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.
Balthazar – 80 Spring St. Worth the splurge for their seafood bar and steak frites. Also, croissants to die for.
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
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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, 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.
The Evolution Store – 687 Broadway
A most unusual store filled to the brim with natural history collectibles, artifacts, like framed butterflies and insect, fossils, skeletons and seashells, all beautifully kept. Kids will find this store fascinating.
MUJI SoHo – 455 Broadway
Popular Japanese retailer with minimalist products, from stationary, travel gear, 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.
Adidas Originals Flagship Store
AEO & Aerie Store
Club Monaco Soho
Converse Flagship Store
Desigual New York Soho
J. Crew Men
Lady Foot Locker/Foot Locker
Rag & Bone
The North Face
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SoHo stands for uth of So uston Street. The acronym was coined by Chester Rapkin, a city planning commissioner who published a report in the 1960s and called “The South Houston Industrial Area”. Ho
The area boundaries are Houston Street on the north and Canal Street in the south; 6th Avenue on the west and Crosby Street on the east.
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 and 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 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 style 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, 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 the urban wasteland became a hip, avant-garde destination.
It’s estimated that by 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 construction 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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