History & Culture
Soho’s period as a residential neighborhood in the 19th century was relatively short. By the middle of the 1800s, rowhouses gave way to department stores and theaters, followed by textile manufacturers who dominated the neighborhood when its signature cast-iron buildings were erected. As the textile industry became increasingly concentrated in the southern United States, Soho’s factories and warehouses were gradually abandoned. In the 1960s, artists began to move in, starting gentrification that resulted in higher real estate prices and, later, high-end retail and restaurants. Today, Soho is better known as a shopping destination than as the epicenter of New York’s 1970s art scene, though there are still a number of galleries, and the International Center of Photography is in neighboring Nolita. While it sits next to Soho, Nolita’s evolution was on a distinctly different path, with the once predominantly Italian residents selling their homes to those priced out of Soho.