What Does Soho Mean In New York City?

New York City is filled with distinct neighborhoods, each with their own vibe and appeal. One of the most famous areas is SoHo, a hip downtown neighborhood known for art galleries, designer boutiques, and industrial architecture. But what exactly does the name SoHo mean and where did it come from?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: SoHo stands for “South of Houston” and refers to the neighborhood’s location south of Houston Street in Lower Manhattan.

Origin and Meaning of the Name SoHo

SoHo, a neighborhood in New York City, has a rich history and a unique name. The term SoHo stands for “South of Houston,” referring to its location south of Houston Street. This iconic neighborhood is renowned for its vibrant art scene, trendy boutiques, and historic architecture.

But how did SoHo come to be known by this distinctive name?

SoHo Stands for “South of Houston”

The name SoHo was coined in the 1960s by an urban planner named Chester Rapkin, who was working on a study of the area. He used the term to refer to the neighborhood south of Houston Street, distinguishing it from the nearby NoHo (North of Houston) neighborhood.

The name quickly caught on and has since become widely recognized and used.

SoHo Borders and Boundaries

SoHo is situated in lower Manhattan, bordered by Houston Street to the north, Canal Street to the south, Lafayette Street to the east, and Sixth Avenue to the west. This compact neighborhood covers approximately 26 blocks and has become one of the most desirable areas to live, work, and visit in the city.

History of the SoHo Neighborhood

The history of SoHo dates back to the early 19th century when it was primarily a residential area. However, with the construction of the Erie Canal in the 1820s, the neighborhood’s focus shifted towards commerce and industry.

Soon, numerous warehouses and factories were built, making SoHo a bustling center for manufacturing and trade.

Over time, the industrial nature of the neighborhood began to decline, and by the mid-20th century, many of the warehouses and factories were abandoned. This led to a period of neglect and decay until artists discovered the spacious loft spaces and transformed them into live-work studios in the 1960s and 1970s.

Today, SoHo is known for its iconic cast-iron buildings, which were once factories and now house upscale retail stores, art galleries, and fashionable residences. The neighborhood has retained much of its artistic character and is a popular destination for art enthusiasts, shoppers, and tourists alike.

Characteristics of SoHo

SoHo, which stands for South of Houston Street, is a vibrant neighborhood located in the heart of Manhattan, New York City. Known for its unique blend of history, culture, and creativity, SoHo has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.

Let’s explore some of the key characteristics that make SoHo so special.

Architecture in SoHo

One of the most striking features of SoHo is its stunning architecture. The neighborhood is renowned for its cast-iron buildings, which were originally built in the 19th century as warehouses and factories.

These iconic buildings have now been repurposed into trendy lofts, boutiques, and art galleries, giving SoHo its distinct character. Walking through the cobblestone streets of SoHo, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful facades and intricate details of these historic structures.

Art Scene

SoHo is a hub for the art community, attracting artists, collectors, and enthusiasts from around the world. The neighborhood is home to numerous art galleries, showcasing a wide range of contemporary and avant-garde works.

From paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media installations, SoHo offers a diverse and dynamic art scene. Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply appreciate creativity, a visit to SoHo’s galleries is a must.

Shopping in SoHo

For those who love to shop, SoHo is a paradise. The neighborhood is renowned for its fashion boutiques, showcasing both established luxury brands and emerging designers. From high-end flagship stores to independent boutiques, SoHo offers a unique shopping experience for every style and budget.

Strolling along the bustling streets, you’ll find a mix of well-known fashion labels, artisanal shops, and trendy concept stores. SoHo truly is a shopper’s delight.

Restaurants and Nightlife

SoHo is not only a haven for fashion and art but also a culinary hotspot. The neighborhood boasts a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and bars, offering a wide array of cuisines and dining experiences.

Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy brunch, a romantic dinner, or a lively night out, SoHo has something to satisfy every palate. From trendy rooftop bars to hidden speakeasies, the nightlife in SoHo is equally impressive, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists to enjoy a night on the town.

SoHo’s Place in NYC Culture

SoHo, which stands for South of Houston Street, is a neighborhood located in the lower part of Manhattan in New York City. Over the years, it has become synonymous with creativity, art, and fashion, making it an integral part of NYC’s cultural landscape.

SoHo in Film and TV

SoHo’s unique architecture and vibrant atmosphere have made it a popular filming location for movies and TV shows. Many iconic scenes have been shot in SoHo, including the famous chase scene in the movie “The French Connection.”

Its picturesque streets and historic buildings provide the perfect backdrop for capturing the essence of New York City.

In addition to being a filming location, SoHo has also been featured in various TV shows, such as “Friends” and “Sex and the City.” These portrayals have further solidified SoHo’s status as a trendy and desirable neighborhood in the eyes of both locals and tourists.

Famous Residents and Visitors

Over the years, SoHo has attracted a diverse range of residents and visitors, including artists, celebrities, and fashionistas. Artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol were drawn to SoHo’s loft spaces, which offered affordable living and ample room for creativity.

Today, SoHo continues to be a magnet for celebrities, with many famous faces often spotted shopping at high-end boutiques or dining at trendy restaurants. Its reputation as a fashionable and artistic hub has made it a go-to destination for those seeking a taste of the New York City lifestyle.

SoHo’s Transformation Over Time

SoHo has undergone significant transformation throughout its history. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was primarily a manufacturing district, with many abandoned warehouses and factories. However, artists began to take notice of the large, affordable loft spaces, and gradually, SoHo transformed into an artistic enclave.

The neighborhood’s artistic reputation eventually attracted upscale retailers and transformed SoHo into a trendy shopping destination. Today, it is home to some of the most renowned fashion brands and high-end boutiques, drawing shoppers from around the world.

Despite its transformation, SoHo has managed to maintain its artistic flair and unique character. Its cobblestone streets, cast-iron buildings, and art galleries are a testament to its rich history and ongoing influence in the world of art and fashion.

For more information about SoHo’s history and cultural significance, you can visit the official website of the SoHo Broadway Initiative.


With its distinct architecture, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants, SoHo has developed into one of the trendiest neighborhoods in New York City. The name itself reveals the area’s geographic location and origins south of Houston Street in Lower Manhattan. Over time, SoHo transformed from a once industrial area into a hub for art, culture and upscale shopping. When visiting New York City, SoHo is a must-see destination to soak in the neighborhood’s unique vibe and beauty.

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