Illustration: Alice Ralph
Illustration: Alice Ralph

With a storied past that has seen its splendid cast-iron buildings used as warehouses, factories, illegal artist’s lofts, and luxury boutiques, SoHo remains one of New York’s most vibrant and creative neighbourhoods. It is bounded roughly by Houston Street (hence South of Houston), West Broadway, Canal Street, and Crosby Street, and owes its existence to residents who in the 1950s and 60s protested Robert Moses’s version of progress: a ‘Lower Manhattan Expressway’ that would have demolished a 14-block swath of SoHo and Little Italy.

Here, we chart the 10 anchors and innovators that give SoHo its DNA.

1. Fanelli Café

A photo posted by Marisa J Lee (@marisajaylee) on


The old-school neon marquee is not the only thing that sets this SoHo landmark apart from sleek neighbours such as Prada, the Apple Store, and the Mercer Hotel. Said to be the second-oldest continuously operating drinking establishment in New York City, Fanelli’s dates to 1847 (it was rebuilt in 1853 after a fire), with a rear bar area that hints at its Prohibition phase as a speakeasy.

2. Donald Judd’s 101 Spring Street


Dan Flavin dreams at @juddfoundation yesterday #juddfoundation A photo posted by kristen joy watts (@kjwww) on

‘The way things go together and are made is interesting to me,’ said Donald Judd, one of the first artists to move to SoHo. His former living and working space at 101 Spring Street, the cast-iron building that he renovated floor by floor beginning in 1968, offers visitors a glimpse into Judd’s art and vision through tours that show off the painstaking restoration (led by Architecture Research Office) completed in 2013.

3. McNally Jackson

One of New York’s most beloved independent bookstores, McNally Jackson is also a pillar of the SoHo community, with a stellar line-up of readings and book clubs, as well as a café supplied by locals like Balthazar and Murray’s. You can’t go wrong with the staff picks – or the non-book offerings available at MJ’s cosy companion shops specialising in ‘goods for the study’ and prints.

4. The Drawing Center


  #art#soho #drawingcenternyc #thedrawingcenter #woosterstreet #lookwhatisee #sunnyday #nyc #lovinglife   A photo posted by Lynn (@lynnmct) on

 Reopened in 2012 after a major expansion and renovation by WXY Architecture + Urban Design, this museum explores the medium of drawing ‘as primary, dynamic, and relevant to contemporary culture, the future of art, and creative thought.’ Director Brett Littman’s conceptual approach pays off in exhibitions that often take the form of bold leaps into disciplines such as architecture, graphic design, and industrial design.

5. Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room

The Earth Room.

A photo posted by Michelle M Morgan (@m.cubed.photographs) on


Keeping the neighbourhood grounded amid soaring real estate prices and the ongoing retail incursion, this 1977 ‘interior earth sculpture’ fills a pristine second-floor loft with 280,000 pounds (127,300 kilos) of dirt. The work was commissioned and is maintained by Dia Art Foundation, which is also responsible for De Maria’s The Broken Kilometer (1979), located a few blocks away.

6. The Apartment by The Line


This is very special and new #theapartmentbytheline

A photo posted by Mellany Sanchez (@mellany_sanchez) on

Take the unassuming elevator up to the third floor of 76 Greene Street to discover your dream dwelling: a light-filled loft studded with some of Hans Wegner and Poul Kjærholm’s greatest hits, jaw-dropping original photography (Cartier-Bresson, Kertész, Penn), and a walk-in closet stocked with what may be the world’s best seasonal-yet-seasonless fashion edit (Altuzarra, Lemaire, Protagonist). It’s all for sale, down to the bar of charcoal soap by the bathtub, but the inspiration is free.

7. Crosby Street Hotel


Art in the lobby #newyork #amazingtrip #soho #amazingtrip #mysimpleclick


A photo posted by Simona ?? (@simona_real) on


Infusing a shot of London’s SoHo into the neighbourhood since 2009, the Crosby Street Hotel is spacious yet cosy, with Kit Kemp’s exuberantly layered upholstery setting off dazzling artworks by the likes of Jaume Plensa and Callum Innes. The 12-floor building, all warehouse-style windows and high ceilings, gives no indication that it was built from scratch atop a former parking lot. You’d never guess it’s Gold LEED-certified – or that there’s a garden (and live chickens) on the roof.

8. Byredo Store


Among the most buzzed-about new arrivals to SoHo, Byredo’s New York flagship is an invitation into the exceptionally cool brain of Ben Gorham, who describes the store as both an aesthetic backdrop for his burgeoning fragrance house (think Italian terrazzo, polished aluminum, hair on hide, a glass-brick homage to Pierre Chareau) and ‘a place where you can take your time to explore our products and their reason for being.’

9. Yukie Ohta, The SoHo Memory Project


‘Shaping our collective memory one post at a time,’ SoHo native and archivist Yukie Ohta has been busy expanding her beloved blog about the neighbourhood’s colourful past into a mobile historical society. The project, fuelled by community donations and a triumphant Kickstarter campaign, will preview its inaugural exhibition this month in advance of the official launch slated for January 2016, with locations in the neighbourhood tba.

10. José Freire, Team Gallery


winter, ryan mcginley.   A photo posted by vy trinh (@vyytrinh) on

 The rare gallery to move against the prevailing SoHo-to-Chelsea flow, arriving on Grand Street in 2006, Team has two SoHo locations (and a beach bungalow-turned-exhibition space that bowed last year in Los Angeles). The artist roster includes media scavengers such as Cory Arcangel and Gardar Eide Einarsson, as well as photographer Ryan McGinley, who trades his usual summer idylls for chillier fall and winter scenes in a two-gallery exhibition, which opened last month.



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