A Day in SoHo

Some may say that you have truly made if you made it to a New York City loft SOuth of HOuston Street (SoHo). The historic neighborhood is easily the most sough-after neighborhood in the city. It is truly the Rodeo Drive of Manhattan, featuring upscale boutiques and shops, cozily nested within the neighborhood’s historic cast-iron buildings that ooze with character.
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Soho Grand Dog Park

Your city-dwelling doggies will have the space to stretch at the Soho Grand Dog Park. The beautifully built park is attached to the Soho Grand Hotel, and is equipped with bespoke benches, fire hydrant water stations and incredible florals that are sure to ease your morning blues as you watch your four-legged friends frolic about.

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The NYC Fire Museum

In a city dominated by culture, history and museums, there’s a little spot that’s been catching praise amongst tourists and residents alike. With only two floors in a former fire house, The NYC Fire Museum is small, but substantial, offering vast and interesting content. The museum originated in Long Island in 1934 and then moved to its current location at 278 Spring Street in 1987. It displays the evolution of the firefighter, stocking the equipment and firetrucks from the early 1900s to the present day. But this museum has gotten attention for two major exhibits - a special memorial to the victims of 9/11 with recovered items from the location; and a mock apartment with artificial smoke machine and black-lighted fire hazards that are used for the museum’s fire education program.

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Cast-Iron Historic District

There are about 250 cast-iron buildings in the city, and most of them are in SoHo. Time to give yourself a history lesson and explore the historic buildings within the Cast-Iron Historic District. The area spreads from West Broadway to the east of Lafayette and Centre streets, and most of the buildings within date back to the 19th century. The most famous in the area is E. V. Haughwout Building at Broadway and Broome Street, closely followed in notoriety by the Gunther Building at Broome and Greene streets. Continue wandering the streets in the area – and you will come across many a random-colored iron-cast loft building.

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Shopping spree

One thing’s for sure: living in SoHo, you’ll never experience a shortage of shopping options. The area is a retail mecca, and you decide to begin your shopping spree at Broadway and Houston. You are greeted by Hollister and the American Eagle right across the street. But the really established brand behemoths are further within the SoHo confines, storefronts like Apple Store, Ben Sherman, J. Crew, John Varvatos, Carhartt WIPs, Sur La Table, and the MoMA Design Store. You’ll also be happy to discover the many specialty stores the likes of McNally Jackson Books and the art bookstore Taschen.

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Jack’s Wife Freda

The first meal of the day has a perfect match at Jack’s Wife Freda. Owners Dean and Maya Jankelowitz met while working at the nearby Balthazar Brasserie. They decided to create an eatery that drew on their city restaurant backgrounds and their family’s history (Dean is from South Africa and Maya is from Israel). The result has transformed the spot into one of the more stylish, laid back all-day foodie destinations in the city – and soon they have expanded into the West Village to boot. Even the restaurant’s name even has a little story to it: it’s the name of Dean’s grandparents. But now let’s take a quick dip into the star of the place: food, obviously. The best buy is the Breakfast Bowl, a choice of scrambled or poached eggs, red quinoa, kale, spaghetti squash, grilled tomato and avocado. If you’re feeling like having a little more protein, then Madame Freda is for you: a pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar bechamel, gruyere and an egg, sunny side up. On a side note, the waffles are easily the most unique in the city, given that they’re made with rosewater.

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Despana

Sure, we can all agree… there’s nothing better than having an authentic dining experience. It’s even better when you manage to get one at lunchtime. In SoHo, Despana is the ultimate lunch spot. Of course, there are many other options at your disposal, like Ed’s Lobster Bar and Pasquale Jones. But Despana offers the most incredible Spanish cuisine, with more than 50 types of Spanish cheese and cured meats. There’s also Paella, and the house made chorizo and morcilla. The tapas cafe within Despana offers simple preparations called bocadillas (small sandwiches) and tapas (small plates).

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The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

The crown jewel landmark of this remarkable New York City neighborhood is easy to find. The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in the city — it was built in 1815 — and was also the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The landmarked building was also named a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. Two other buildings on the grounds have been landmarked as well: Gingerbread Gothic Chancery Office Building and St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School. The complex has been engrained into the subconscious of the American culture. The baptism scene from “The Godfather” was filmed here and the walled graveyard was featured in the movie “Mean Streets.”

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The New York Earth Room

In an area dominated by style and sleekness, you find an original escape by the name of The New York Earth Room. The room is just a room filled with a 22-inch-deep layer of dirt that’s spread across a 3,600 square-foot gallery space. Envisioned by artist Walter de Maria, this interior “sculpture” has become a cultural destination amongst New Yorkers since its creation in 1977. The idea behind the installation is to give the residents a break from the smells of the streets by giving them an opportunity to relish in the smells of soil and earth. There are things growing from the 280,000 pounds of dirt in the Earth Room – such as mushrooms. Originally, there were three Earth Rooms in the entire world – the other two being in Germany – and this trendy SoHo location is the last remnant. Interestingly, even if the curators decided to transport the dirt, the dismantling of the exhibit would be a costly enterprise with a projected $1 million price tag.

A Night in SoHo

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Balthazar Brasserie

The food scene in SoHo is as delicate and fancy as the surroundings. The area is home to some excellent seafood eats like Aquagrill, Blue Ribbon Sushi and Charlie Bird. But the one standout is Balthazar Brasserie. There’s no question that finding a seat at this French eatery could be a challenge on any night, and most definitely on the weekends. The brasserie opened in 1997 and has ever since been offering some of the most traditional French foods you will find in Manhattan. There’s grilled Dorade and Sullivan County trout. Of course you decide to have Chicken Paillard and Steak Frites. Like many French brasseries, Balthazar’s has daily specials and the weekend selection. Their Bouillabaisse (seafood stew) and braised short ribs are the weekend’s true delicacies.

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Houston Hall

The night ends at Houston Hall. Sitting at the border of the SoHo and West Village, the former federal garage keeps all of its former self. The brick and woodwork are original, as are low-hanging rafters, and all enhanced with plentiful communal benches, gigantic windows and lots of good beer. The vast indoor environment provides a welcome perspective of the city’s drinking scene.

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Broome Street Bar

The first thing you see when you enter Broome Street Bar is the stained-glass visage of a young boy in a cap. This is how nightlife begins in SoHo. The rustic dive bar has been operating in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, transforming into a tourist magnet due to the vicinity of the area’s hotels. The bar features an impressive list of craft and international brews like Schneider Weisse. The kitchen offers up simple bar grub but it stays open past midnight. If you want to try out some other historic water holes, then take your turn at The Ear Inn, which opened in 1830. Or if you are feeling like some tasty cocktails in a 1950’s setting – head on over to either The Handy Liquor Bar or the Pegu Club.

Words by Arte Vincent

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JENNIFER RHODES
JENNIFER RHODES
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Residential Division
Office: 347.227.8998
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