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City Living: SoHo
Perhaps the most common misperception about SoHo is that it's only filled with designer boutiques, expensive restaurants and millionaire residents who have no interest in getting to know their neighbors.
But according to some long-time residents, this isn’t the truth.
Yes, the nabe is saturated with retail, restaurants and wealthy residents, but if you believe that SoHo residents are detached from each other, Sean Sweeney, director of the SoHo Alliance, begs to differ.
“There is a neighborly community here, a sense of community,” he said. “If I go to get a cup of coffee I’ll probably meet three of my neighbors.”
For him the area has a strong sense of place.
“When you’re in SoHo you know you’re in SoHo,” he explained. “You get a sense of the activism of the pioneers who created this neighborhood with blood, sweat and tears and turned it into the world-class neighborhood it is today.”
He is speaking of the artists who moved into SoHo’s abandoned factory buildings during the 1960s and ’70s, and coined the loft way of living, with massive square footage, floor-to-ceiling windows and the luxury of living and working in the same space.
In the ’80s when the landlords wanted the artists out, the creative-types fought to stay. This led to the legalization of artist residences with the Loft Law, passed in 1982.
Sweeney was part of that pioneering group and has lived in SoHo for 35 years.
“This isn’t the SoHo of the ’70s and ’80s, but a new generation is coming in and continuing this activism,” he said. For example, long-time and new residents are fighting to keep open the green space that is nearest to SoHo, the Elizabeth Street Garden at 209 Elizabeth St., and stop it from being developed into affordable housing units.
Compared to the ’60s and ’70s, “it’s clean, safe, and there’s more access to services now,” added Yukie Ohta, who was born and raised in here and is the founder of the SoHo Memory Project blog. She recently moved back with her husband and daughter to the same apartment she grew up in on Mercer Street. “We didn’t have that while growing up nor did we have garbage pickup. Now the neighborhood is pretty well taken care of.”
Need to Know
SoHo extends from West Houston Street in the north to Canal Street in the south. Its eastern boundary is Lafayette or Centre Street and its western boundary is West Broadway or Sixth Avenue, depending on who you talk to. More »
A, C, E to Canal Street; C, E to Spring Street; N, R, Q to Canal Street; N, R to Prince Street; J, Z to Canal Street; 6 to Spring and Canal streets; B, D, F, M to Broadway-Lafayette Street More »
M5, M21 More »
SoHo’s closest library, the NYPL Mulberry Street Library, is just outside its eastern boundary at 10 Jersey St. More »
The USPS Prince Station branch closed in 2009, the closest USPS office is at 201 Varick St. in Chelsea More »
The SoHo neighborhood is covered by the NYPD’s 1st Precinct, at 16 Ericsson Place. Historically robberies, burglaries and grand larcenies were high at the precinct. Through Nov. 10, 2013, there were 156 burglaries and 909 grand larcenies. But compared to the 90s, crime dropped drastically. According to the NYPD’s CompStat report for the precinct, in 1990 there were 1,281 robberies; in 2012 there were 81. In 1990 there were 1,486 burglaries and in 2012 there were 187. Grand larceny complaints in 1990 were at 5,554 compared to 985 in 2012. More »
This tiny eatery is known for its breakfast sandwiches as well as their soup and salad.
For Mexican sushi and Japanese tacos Taka Taka mixes it up. Rolls include the shrimp masago and Oaxaca cheese roll with chipotle dressing and sweet potato tempura.
Spring Street Natural Restaurant and Bar
Grab brunch, lunch or dinner at this hot spot. Dishes include scrambled tofu and organic edamame.
This historic spot has been around since before SoHo was SoHo. It offers affordable beer on tap and bar grub matched with an ambiance that harkens back to the old days.
Grand Bar and Lounge
This upscale, glamorous spot is part of the SoHo Grand Hotel. In addition to a DJ spinning the latest tracks, an array of cocktail choices and bar snacks awaits.
Calypso St. Barth
This store carries the latest trends in clothing, shoes and accessories for the style-conscious woman.
Odin New York
This stylish and trendy men’s flagship boutique carries one-of-a-kind clothing from designers like Engineered Garments, Todd Snyder and Rxmance.
Pearl River Mart
This spot carries a vast array of Chinese goods that make for perfect gifts from tea sets and charming umbrellas to herbal remedies and clothing.
LUMAS Gallery offers a feast of photography, paintings and movie stills from contemporary artists.
The New York Earth Room
This space features artist Walter De Maria’s installation of 280,000 pounds of sculpted soil, filling up over 3,000-square-foot second floor gallery.
Housing Works Bookstore Café
Visit this community gem to check out their book collection, hear a book reading, see a panel discussion or to shop their thrift store next door.