SoHo, which stands for “SOuth of HOuston” Street, is a well-known neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. Renowned for its diverse mix of artist lofts, galleries and studios. The SoHo Iron Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978. It encompasses almost the entire neighborhood. The district’s 26 blocks contains approximately 500 buildings many of which have architectural elements featuring cast iron. Another notable fact about the neighborhood is that the side streets were paved with Belgian blocks, a rectangular-shaped, quarried stone.
Over the centuries, SoHo served as home to an eclectic mix of activities. It initially was a land grant for freed slaves and then a strategic position for defensive emplacements during the American Revolution. After the Collect Pond was drained, SoHo became a residential area with notable inhabitants, such as James Fennimore Cooper. When the bars and brothels of nearby Broadway spilled into the neighborhood during the mid-19th century, SoHo residents moved away. The district was transformed into a center for textile manufacturing and light industry. As industry departed after World War II, SoHo began is final renaissance as a home for budding artists and performers. The district faced demolition for an elevated highway. It was saved by the historical preservation society, a new movement within the city. More recently, the area has become home to a mix of upscale boutiques as well.