The Soho Neighborhood (a syllabic abbreviation for “South of Houston”) coined by the influential urban planner Chester Rapkin is recognized for trendy shops and restaurants. “SoHo is also known as the Cast-Iron Historic District: Many of the side streets are paved with Belgian blocks and the ornate cast iron facades were originally used to spruce up pre-existing buildings, kind of like brickface and stucco, but was later used in new construction as well. There are approximately 250 cast iron buildings in New York City, most of them in SoHo and mostly dating from the mid to late-1800’s. An American invention, cast iron facades were not only less expensive to produce than stone or brick, but also much faster, as they were made in molds rather than carved by hand, and stuck to the face of buildings. In addition, the same mold could be used for multiple buildings and a broken piece could easily be recast, making it a very efficient decorative method. Given iron is pliable, ornate window frames could be designed, while the strength of the iron also allowed for enlarged windows that let floods of light into buildings as well as high ceilings in vast spaces with only columns necessary for support. Although cast iron architecture enjoyed short-lived popularity as an architectural style, being replaced by steel-skeleton construction with high speed elevators by the 1880’s, the buildings of SoHo are considered the prototypes or precursors to the skyscraper and therefore hold much historic significance in the development of New York City.”
New York City Map 360: Transportation Maps
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