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New York Daily Photo: Housing Stock
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Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Housing Stock

This magnificent building at 451 Broome Street in the SoHo Historic District caught the eyes of couple of photographer friends and myself on a recent walk. I could find no details on this building specifically - amazing, since in another locale something of this quality would be worthy of group tours. But SoHo is packed with quality structures, so a building really has to really stand out in an extraordinary way architecturally or historically to make itself known. SoHo is bounded by Houston Street on the north, Lafayette Street on the east, Canal Street on the south, and Varick Street on the west. Like much of the city in the 1960s-70s, this industrial neighborhood was in decline and was discovered and populated by artists who found upper story floors (which became known as lofts) with their enormous spaces, large windows and cheap rents very desirable. Most of the use of these spaces for living was technically illegal, however the state of the neighborhood caused these violations to be overlooked. SoHo has also been known as the Cast Iron District - the ornate facades of many of these 19th century buildings are done in cast iron. Like Tribeca and DUMBO, the quality of housing stock ultimately determines the degree of gentrification a place will attain. We see this all over the world with places like the Marais in Paris or Providence, Rhode Island, which is seeing a renaissance, driven by its old factory buildings. Contrast this with neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn or the East Village - they certainly have been gentrified but I do not believe you will ever see these neighborhoods approach the level of SoHo, with Madison and Fifth Avenue retailers like Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Coach. Here we had a centrally located neighborhood with beautiful architecture and cobbled streets. It was just a matter of time ...

Related postings - click any of the following links: Bleecker Tower, Scholastic Building, Bayard Condict, The Wall, Jersey Girls, Stephanie, Hoopmobile, Gourmet Garage, Alidoro.


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