Bearing practically no resemblance to Broadway proper (and featuring 100% fewer pedestrian plazas), West Broadway is like many other SoHo streets. Where it differs is in the table after table featuring different works of art, often being sold by the artists themselves. These tables sit right outside several high-end stores, boutiques and studios, and while some buildings specifically prohibit setting up in front, many others don't seem to mind. I specifically didn't take many photos with the artwork since they don't seem to take too kindly to people reproducing their work without buying it.
Entries in SoHo (22)
It's unfortunate that, for many, this is their first or only experience of SoHo. Crowded, noisy, filled with mediocre brands, in many ways it's not all that different from Times Square – well, minus the pedestrian plazas. I can only hope that tourists who start here find their way down the side streets so they can experience a different side of what can be a very quiet neighborhood.
A classic (but endangered) mural on the corner of Prince and Greene starts off this block. Depicting cast-iron architecture in a 2-D painting, the mural could be covered up if the owner of the adjacent lot decides to pullet up the single level building on the corner. The surrounding buildings mostly echo the vintage architecture.
A common thread in SoHo are the hanging signs. Practically every store front features a perpendicular hanging sign with some high-end brand emblazoned across it. Fittingly enough The SoHo Building, which sits comfortably between these storefronts, has unique signage which has each letter of its name jutting out from the building, causing the sign to change as you walk by. Also unique is the metallic subway map embedded in the sidewalk in front of the building. First installed in the mid-1980's, the map isn't exactly accurate, but it's a fitting homage to the steel tracks which run below much of the town.
Skirting through the southern half of SoHo, Broome Street still retains the strong retail presence which exists throughout the whole neighborhood. However. it also felt a bit less "happening" than some surrounding streets. The wider roadway plays as an entrance route to the Holland Tunnel, so increased automobile traffic could be playing as a factor for the lighter foot traffic.
Unfortunately as beautiful as the SoHo architecture was, it wasn't too enthralling to me. I took these photos on the day before Halloween so I was far more amused by the costumes I encountered while walking around. Apparently I can be easily distracted.
This block has mostly stayed below the radar of developers and seems untouched for the moment. This isn't to say there's not construction or eminent changes. But as the surrounding blocks all have glassy towers shooting up from the ground, this one remains strangely dormant.
Towards Varick, an old narrow building has barely-visible lettering which reads "Maritime Engine Specialties Corp.". A post and subsequent comment thread on the Fading Ad blog reveals a bit about its history:
The Marine Engine Specialties Corp. was headquartered in San Francisco and had branches in Long Beach, California and New York. The Long Beach branch was opened in 1967. There was also a service facility in Hoboken. The company supplied power plant equipment, such as boilers, and pumping systems to the commercial maritime industry as well as to the Defense Department. They also serviced ship pumps made by other manufacturers. The New York harbor, one of the busiest in the world, must have been a great market for them, but at some point after 1974 they apparently went out of business. – Robert Baptista
In the furthest reaches of SoHo Vandam Street exists as a short 3-block run which feels mostly vacant when compared to the surrounding neighborhoods. Frankly, I still don't understand why the area nestled between TriBeCa and the West Village can't have its own name. It sure doesn't feel the same as SoHo to me, which is a much tighter-knit collection of streets than this area.
A series of loading docks and driveways make this a rather unwelcoming block. The corner of Varick is home to The City Winery which is a really unique place. Combining wine-making (they ship the grapes in) with a restaurant and a performance space, the brainchild of the guy who brought us The Knitting Factory seems like it could be a big hit. It's only been open for a few years, and while I've never been inside, it seems like something I could be interested in. The biggest thing going against it is its out-of-the-way locale, but if one-note venues like Terminal 5 can thrive despite being inconvenient-as-hell (and a terrible space in the instance of T5), then I think The City Winery has a good shot.