Photos 24 Jul 2011 06:50 am

There Goes the Neighborhood Photos

- The artists are always there first. In NYC, they settled in the 60s in Soho, just south of Greenwich Village where lots of warehouses & factories stood. Lots of galleries built around them, and the rents suddenly went high. The artists moved to Williamsburg in Brooklyn (just across the East River), a Polish neighborhood where the rents were low. Galleries and boutiques moved in, and the artists had to move out again. They went further into Brooklyn.

At 6am the other day, I was walking across Prince Street in Soho. It’s been years since the artists had fled, yet I realized a lot was still changing. Even bigger money was moving in, and the beauty and charm of the neighborhood was moving out. I took some photos and am about to give you a little tour.

This is Prince Street which goes across Manhattan Island from East to West.
In this photo I’m looking West because that’s the direction I’m walking.

This is the first N/S street we come upon, Mercer Street looking North.
I was also there at midnight, so some of the pictures were shot at night.

You’ll notice it’s not really cobblestone but bricks laid to make up the street.

Even the crosswalk at Mercer Street is made of a different size brick.

Here’s the next block, Wooster Street looking North.
The same brick composition poses as cobblestone.
It has its own sort of charm.

Here’s Wooster Street looking South.
More bricks, very quaint.

Aha! Construction has moved in, Greene Street, the next block up.
Those fake cobllestones will soon be history. Paved over.

This is Vesuvio Bakery on Prince Street.
It’s a famous old bakery that sells great bread.
I wonder how long it’ll last.

Right next door is a more fashionable Estate Jewelry store on Prince Street.

Once you get to West Broadway, everything changes.
The streets are paved the stores are chi-chi.
Traffic is two-way.

Here’s a fancy new store on West Broadway, a SportMax.

Street sellers line West Broadway selling their wares.
They have to fight the City even after they get their licenses.
(This was an all-out war under Giuliani – cops vs vendors.)
At 6am this is the first vendor to set up, just off Prince Street.

Even the construction sites look fancy on West Broadway.

Here’s the last stop, the other end of Prince Street,
Sixth Avenue, looking back, East.

Moving down Sullivan Street (the last small cross street) heading Uptown.
It’s the very last block prior to Sixth Avenue.

On of my favorite stores on Sullivan Street is Something Special.
It’s a candy store with a lot of rental Postal boxes. The pictures
of Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker & their kids indicate
that the couple uses one of the boxes in this store. Their mail drop.
I get things notarized here from an older Italian gentleman.

The Koho School of Sumi-E is going out of business on the corner
of Sullivan Street and Houston. This shop always reminds me of
the late Francis Lee, who studie Sumi-E painting.
He was a real Independent back in the day.
I often rented his Oxberry to shoot films overnight.
I wonder if the demise of this shop will mean that I won’t think so often of Francis.

Here’s the big street that runs parallel to Prince Street. Houston Street looking East.
The photo shows one half of the traffic, so it’s a big street and separates NOHO from SOHO.

You can see that the nature of the neighborhood is changing. Brick-laid cobblestone is about to go completely. Old shops are being forced out of business, and money is moving in with higher prices and no concern for the little guy or the neighborhood. There are no artists here anymore, just vendors who pay high rents.

6 Responses to “There Goes the Neighborhood Photos”

  1. on 24 Jul 2011 at 7:26 am 1.Nancy Beiman said …

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for showing pictures of the old stomping grounds. The ‘gentrification’ started a long time ago. And the artists always make the place desirable, and then they are forced out (eliminating the reason people move there in the first place). I hope that Vesuvio Bakery sticks around or is allowed to. Wasn’t there once legislation that *only* artists could buy lofts in SoHo? The lawyers got around that one very early.

  2. on 24 Jul 2011 at 12:07 pm 2.Richard O'Connor said …

    The Museum of the Moving Image recently had a show of cable public access which included a retrospective of Soho TV.

    It showed as recently as the mid-1980s the area was a neighborhood -an area of the city where people lived and made a living. It’s no longer a place to live, it’s a place to shop (but only if you can afford it).

  3. on 24 Jul 2011 at 1:28 pm 3.Stephen Macquignon said …

    When I was younger I thought I would be one of the artists to live in Soho
    Well I live in Queens watching the neighborhood change the way it did was sad

  4. on 24 Jul 2011 at 4:55 pm 4.Janet Benn said …


    When I moved onto Sullivan St. in the 70′s there were only 2 businesses on West Broadway between Prince and Spring: a hardware and paint store and a boutique that sold beautiful clothes and fabrics from around the world. Does anybody remember the name of that place with the woman who owned it in white face makeup with red dots on cheeks and/or forehead and kohl-rimmed eyes? She was very sweet. One of the very special places that eventually had to go, along with real artists who were forced out by lawyers who showed their vacation photos to prove they were “artists”.

  5. on 25 Jul 2011 at 1:49 am 5.John said …

    There really was a solitude to not just the SoHo area, but the area east of Washington Square Park all the way up to 14th Street on the Bowery back in the 1960s, 70s and into the 80s (the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere vibe was one of the attractions of CGBGs – unless you were an East Village denison or headed to McSorley’s, you just weren’t going to be in that neighborhood). From an economic developmemt/city tax revenue standpoint, I suppose the current situation is better, but there’s barely an area now in Lower Manhattan that hasn’t been touched by gentrification to the point it’s barely recognizable from a gemeation ago.

  6. on 25 Jul 2011 at 11:40 am 6.Charles Kenny said …

    Coming from Europe, I’ve been quite fascinated by the ebb and flow in the fortunes of cities and neighbourhoods in the US. I still find it quite odd how an area can be wealthy one decade and flat broke the next.

    I actually just finished reading Joseph Mitchell’s stories of old New York and his writings sure do bring about a sense of romanticism for the way things used to be. Everything seemed to be so much more interesting in those days, even the Village, which, if Mitchell is to be believed, every resident had quite a story to tell.

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