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 isnt 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 Ill probably meet three of my neighbors.
For him the area has a strong sense of place.
When youre in SoHo you know youre 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 SoHos 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 isnt 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, its clean, safe, and theres 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 didnt have that while growing up nor did we have garbage pickup. Now the neighborhood is pretty well taken care of.
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 »