Soho/Little Italy Mulberry Street New York, NY 10013
The blocks south of Houston (pronounced HOW-stun) and north of Canal streets contain the city’s largest concentration of cast-iron fronted buildings. Built as warehouses and manufacturing spaces, they were converted to open living spaces, or “lofts,” for artists and sculptors who appreciated the extra elbowroom. The area quickly filled with art galleries, restaurants and fashionable shops. Soon people with deep pockets decided that if SoHo was a nice place to visit, it was an even nicer place to live. The starving artists moved to less costly neighborhoods such as DUMBO (down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass) and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Though SoHo is still a center of creativity, people are now drawn to the area by its numerous boutiques, restaurants, bars and music venues.Abutting SoHo on the east is Little Italy, stretching from Canal Street to Houston Street, between Lafayette Street and the Bowery. This is still the best place to get a literal taste of the Old World, whether with a snack or a gigantic meal. In the middle of September, Little Italy comes alive with the well-known Feast of San Gennaro that fills Mulberry Street with the scent of pastries and sausages. During this celebration, Italian-Americans gather to show their love for the old neighborhood and old country with a large, festive street fair. While tourist-oriented Italian cafes and restaurants line Mulberry Street, there are also lesser-known shops where many locals still go to buy olive oil and fresh pasta. If you venture to the north, Nolita (North of Little Italy) now is home to chi-chi restaurants and many fashionable boutiques have popped up, and is a source of everything from perfectly cut jeans to hand-blown glass.