SoHo — which sits south of Houston (hence the name), north of Canal, and between Sixth Avenue and Broadway — is an architectural time capsule from the days when cast iron was all the rage. The innovative construction technique offered a cheaper alternative to carved stone for the decorative elements on facades. (It would, in turn, be largely replaced by steel.) SoHo’s historic district boasts the world’s largest collection of such buildings, most from the 1880s and ’90s, when they served as textile warehouses and factories. Beginning in the 1960s, artists began converting spaces into studios and apartments. Today, high-end retail and restaurants occupy lower floors in what has become one of Manhattan’s most sought-after neighborhoods.
Nolita comprises the 16 blocks west of SoHo, over to the Bowery. The new hyper-specific portmanteau (for “North of Little Italy”) was bestowed in the 1990s to delineate its distinct, more-residential feel.