The Oxford English Dictionary has no mention of New York's Soho, but has this for London:
The name of a district in the West End of London, noted for its foreign population, prostitutes, and restaurants, and latterly for its night clubs, striptease shows, pornography shops, etc. Freq. attrib. of things connected with or characteristic of Soho.
1818 KEATS Let. 14 Mar. (1931) I. 127 Then who would go Into dark Soho, And chatter with dack'd hair'd critics.
The Oxford English Dictionary also defines the term "soho" to this, from evidence that goes back to the 14th century:
A call used by huntsmen to direct the attention of the dogs or of other hunters to a hare which has been discovered or started, or to encourage them in the chase; hence used as a call to draw the attention of any person, announce a discovery, or the like.
The New York neighborhood took the name in the late 1960s.
SoHo is a neighborhood in the Manhattan borough of New York City in the United States. In the 1840s and 1850s, it was an area with more bars and brothels than anywhere else in the city, catering to a male clientele from all social stations from clerks through the middle class to the city's elite, all of whom filled the areas streets and sidewalks from Saturday night to Monday morning. Eventually, as the center of the growing city continued to move uptown, the quality of the area declined, until it became known as Hell's Hundred Acres, an "industrial wasteland", full of sweatshops and small factories in the daytime, but empty at night.
In the mid-20th century, artists began to move in to have large spaces in which they could both live and work, in what were called loft spaces. In 1968 artists and activists were forming an organization to legalize their living in a manufacturing zone. Seeking to identify their group geographically, they consulted a city Planning Commission map that described the area as "South of Houston", "Houston" being Houston Street. This was shortened to "SoHo", the group voted to call itself the SoHo Artists Association and the name for the neighborhood stuck.
The neighborhood's association with the arts has expanded over time, and the area has become a famous destination for shopping. It is an archetypal example of inner-city regeneration and gentrification, encompassing socio-economic, cultural, political and architectural developments. It is also known as the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District because of the many buildings incorporating cast iron architectural elements.
The Neighborhood. SoHo is a neighborhood bounded roughly by Houston Street on the north, Lafayette Street/Centre Street on the east, Canal Street on the south, and West Broadway/Avenue of the Americas on the west, based on SoHo's unique M1-5a/M1-5b zoning passed in 1971.
19 October 1969, New York (NY) Times, pg. D29:
What's so special about the South Houston Industrial Area (known in planning jargon as SOHO), a 40-block district bounded by Houston St. on the north, Canal on the south, West Broadway on the west, and Lafayette on the east? For one thing, it coincides with one of the city's finest architectural areas, the cast-iron district. And for another, the spacious loft buildings that once harbored mostly small businesses have been infiltrated by thousands of artists and their families.
New York City • Neighborhoods • (0) Comments • Saturday, July 31, 2004 • Permalink