Tag Archives: SoHo


SoHo is (according to New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report) the world’s largest concentration of cast iron facades. The style emphasizes floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows. My personal favorite is the Singer Building on Broadway – an L-shaped building with its second entrance on Prince Street. The row of buildings along the west side of Broadway is predominantly block-through structures with back entrances on Mercer Street.

Most visitors to SoHo (South of Houston – which New Yorkers pronounce How-ston) are more interested in shopping than in architecture: The district has become a designer outlet, missing only a free parking lot. Even Canal Street – once the preserve of scrap, tool, and junk shops – is becoming semi-respectable.

As you tour the area you may notice “A.I.R.” painted on some buildings. That stands for “Artist In Residence” to alert the Fire Department that the lofts may be occupied.

SoHo Historic District as defined by the Landmarks Commission extends from Houston Street south to Canal Street, and from West Broadway east to Crosby Street. This gallery includes some buildings (even-numbered) from the west side of West Broadway and St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church (on Sullivan Street off Houston Street).

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Posterized Photos

This gallery is just for fun – posterized versions of images used elsewhere in this site. These images all started out normally – sets of bracketed exposures. Then I used Photomatix software to apply color shifts and luminosity effects with the “Grunge” preset. (See NewYorkitecture.com Photography Technique for more information about this technique.)

The images in the gallery are of buildings in the Chelsea, Soho, Ladies Mile, Civic Center, Astor Plaza and Flatiron districts.

New Era Building

With its eye-catching Art Nouveau copper mansard roof, the New Era Building stands out in the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District. You can spot the building a block away.

But up close, it’s even more wondrous: The deeply incised white terra cotta detailing of the sixth floor arches has the appearance of carved ivory. What’s more, the facade has been restored to a pristine white.


There seems to be some confusion over the original owner and architect of this building. The “AIA Guide to New York City” accurately describes the structure, but identifies the New Era Building as 491 Broadway, designed by Buchman & Dreiser. The Daytonian in Manhattan blog gives it the right address – 495 Broadway – but also says the building was designed by Buchman & Dreiser, and was originally owned by Jeremiah C. Lyons. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission says 495 Broadway was owned by Augustus D. Julliard and designed by Alfred Zucker; 491 Broadway, the larger building next door, was owned by Lyons and designed by Buchman & Dreiser. I’m going with the Landmarks Preservation Commission version.

New Era Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 495 Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets
  • Year completed: 1893
  • Architect: Alfred Zucker
  • Floors: 8
  • Style: Art Nouveau
  • New York City Landmark: 1973 (included in SoHo Cast Iron Historic District)
New Era Building Suggested Reading

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Astor Building

The Astor Building, built on the site of former Astor family homes, was beautifully restored during a 1996 condominium conversion after years of neglect. The gleaming white brick and terra cotta facade has the distinction of treating every floor differently.

The building was originally lofts for garment industry manufacturing. From 1993 to 2004 this was the home of The New Museum for Contemporary Art – occupying the ground floor and basement. The building’s owners tried to convert it to a luxury hotel, but failed; new owners stepped in with a condo conversion. Though the museum moved out, the building still calls itself “The New Museum Building.” Read the Daytonian in Manhattan blog for more fascinating (sometimes bizarre) history.

And then just enjoy the building, a floor at a time.

Astor Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 583 Broadway, between Prince and Houston Streets
  • Year completed: 1897
  • Architect: Cleverdon & Putzel
  • Floors: 12
  • Style: Beaux Arts
  • New York City Landmark: 1973 (part of the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District)
Astor Building Suggested Reading
  • NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report (SoHo Cast Iron Historic District, p. 48)
  • The New York Times archives (about the restoration)
  • The New York Sun article
  • Daytonian in Manhattan blog
  • City Realty listing

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Trump SoHo

After unveiling plans on prime time TV (The Apprentice, June 2006), The Donald’s Trump SoHo lurched from one controversy to another. Having survived the gauntlet, the 46-story mirror-glass box now commands the local skyline – almost daring other developers to match it.

Of course anything that wears the Trump name is a lightning rod for criticism, but Columbia University architecture professor Mitchell Joachim is quoted (Wikipedia) calling Trump SoHo “one of the ugliest buildings in New York.” Architectural Record‘s Michael Sorkin stated, “As urbanism, it’s vandalism.” Sorkin sides with Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and others who sued to block the building, claiming it violated zoning restrictions. Trump prevailed, claiming the building was for transients, not permanent residents.

Work was stopped briefly in December 2006 when the excavation unearthed human remains – graves from beneath the former Spring Street Presbyterian Church. Work stopped again in 2008 when a concrete form collapsed, killing a worker.

The condo/hotel’s developers and interior design firm sued and countersued over payment/performance issues, and some condo buyers claimed that they had been tricked into purchasing units.

The architect, Handel Architects, points out that guests will have fabulous views in all directions. “The intent of the building design is to express the internal, dynamic life of the hotel and its relationship to its urban surroundings. The public theater of the hotel public spaces are revealed through clear glass, while the more private functions are concealed behind translucent glass.”

Preservationists point out that 46-story Trump SoHo is blatantly out of scale with a neighborhood of six- to 15-story buildings.

On the other hand, it does provide an interesting kaleidoscopic effect for sky photos.

Trump SoHo Vital Statistics
Trump SoHo Suggested Reading

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One Kenmare Square

One Kenmare Square is a modern addition to SoHo, with a wavy brick and glass face that breaks the building line – as if its towering form and made-up address wasn’t enough to make it stand out. (Kenmare Square no longer exists – the park of that name was renamed in 1987.)

Except for the undulating Lafayette Street facade, the design is minimalist: No decoration softens the industrial-grey brick. The ribbon windows are reminiscent of the Starrett-Lehigh Building (warehouse/office complex) in West Chelsea.

One Kenmare Square Vital Statistics
One Kenmare Square Recommended Reading

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