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NoHo: A Little Neighborhood with Big Appeal

November 06, 20236 min read

Located just a short distance from The Washington Square Hotel, NoHo is an eclectic New York neighborhood offering something for everyone, making it a popular destination for our hotel guests. Like SoHo, NoHo is named for its proximity to Houston Street (short for North/South of Houston St.).

NoHo’s perimeter includes the Bowery to the east and Broadway to the west, and extending south from East 9th Street to Houston Street.

Though it’s one of Manhattan’s smallest neighborhoods, there’s a wealth of architecture and history, dining and entertainment, art and culture and superb shopping—all concentrated within a few city blocks. In this article, we’ve included NoHo’s history, followed by some suggestions on how to make the most out of your visit to NoHo.

History of NoHo

NoHo has a rich historical and architectural legacy. The neighborhood has been a vacation destination since the mid-1700s, when Swiss physician Jacob Sperry created New York City’s first botanical garden at (what is now) the intersection of Lafayette Street and Astor Place. By 1804, John Jacob Astor purchased the land from Sperry and leased it to Joseph Delacroix. Delacroix, in turn, constructed the Vauxhall Gardens resort on the site, making it a magnet for magnates and an attraction for NYC’s aristocrats. Astor eventually took over Delacroix’s garden lease and paved the way for construction of mansions in the area. He also built and donated the Astor Library.

The neighborhood continued to grow as builder Seth Geer hired architect Alexander Jackson Davis to design LaGrange Terrace, the upscale row houses known today as Colonnade Row. These prime real estate spots attracted the likes of American elites, such as the Astor and Vanderbilt families. It also was home to notable authors, including Charles Dickens and Manhattan native Washington Irving, who penned Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Through the 1800s NoHo continued to attract the wealthy, such as William Cullen Bryant (longtime New York Post editor) and inventor Isaac Singer (think sewing machines). The neighborhood shifted to manufacturing and warehousing, seeing an influx of terra cotta loft style buildings and Greek revival architecture as the turn of the century approached.

As manufacturing and warehousing relocated outside of the city, the post war 1950s brought NoHo a cultural renaissance continuing through the 1970s. Occupants included artists, theater companies, and most notably, Andy Warhol, best known for his iconic works created during the 60s, including his Campbell's Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe Series.

In 1999, NoHo achieved Landmark Preservation Commission designation for its 125 buildings representing NYC’s commercial history from the early mid-1800s through the early 1900s. Its distinct architecture includes brick, cast iron, limestone, marble, and terra cotta facades. The Commission later divided historical NoHo into two districts, NoHo and NoHo East.

What to See and Do in NoHo

Much of NoHo’s history, interesting architecture, and activity is concentrated on or near Lafayette Street. The Astor Place Wikipedia entry offers detailed history, information and a map of the area. Astor Place runs from Broadway east to Lafayette Street, ending at Alamo Plaza which is home to the Astor Place rotating Alamo sculpture, AKA “The Cube”. The Astor Place Theatre, located at 434 Lafayette St., is home to the worldwide hit Blue Man Group (BMG), whose high-energy performances combine music, comedy, and audience interaction into a multi-media sensory experience. This family-friendly performance is appropriate for children 3 and over, teens and adults. Check out the website link above for details.

Colonnade Row, 428-434 Lafayette St., is a great example of Greek revival architecture. The buildings were some of the first in NYC to receive landmark status. Just across the street at 425 Lafayette, St. is the Public Theater. Once Astor Library, the historic building was home to the hit show Hamilton and has an ongoing list of performances that can be found here. Dine and drink onsite at The Library at the Public in the building mezzanine. Their menu includes cocktails, wine, craft beer, bar snacks, shareable plates, sandwiches, entrees and dessert. The adjacent Joe’s Pub, a venue of the Public, brings performers and audiences together while serving an eclectic menu of wines and spirits, starters and shares, main dishes and sides, as well as amazing desserts. Other trendy restaurants in NoHo include  Il Buco at 47 Bond St., offering primo Italian fare, and Indochine at 430 Lafayette St., serving Asian-fusion fare that attracts some the city’s most prominent artists, models, fashion editors, and celebrities.
If you’re feeling nostalgic, check out the Merchant’s House Museum, at 29 East 4th St. for a look into 19th Century NoHo. This National Historic Landmark offers a glimpse into the lives of a wealthy merchant-class family, including a vast collection of items from the Tredwell family who occupied the home from 1835-1933. The museum calendar of events offers guided tours, including a Walking Tour of 19th Century NoHo on the second and fourth Sundays from March through November. Click here for more information on admission costs, hours, events, and exhibitions.

Lincoln buffs might want to stroll by the Cooper Union (a historic private college) Foundation Building, located at Cooper Square and Astor Place. Designed by Fred A. Petersen, a founder of the American Institute of Architects, this Italianate brownstone’s Great Hall once hosted orators including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Art and culture abound in NoHo. Some top picks include the Bowery Poetry Club at 308 Bowery, a popular performance space and meeting place for aspiring poets; but not just poets—the club also hosts workshops, jazz and folk performance acts, and other talent. Click here to find the schedule of upcoming performances and events. In contrast to the timeless club, The Hole NYC at 312 Bowery hosts contemporary art experiences, offering exhibitions and special events to the city’s emerging talent.

No trip to NYC is complete without shopping, and NoHo is no exception. NoHo’s Patricia Field store at 312 Bowery is a one-of-a-kind boutique founded by the fashion legend responsible for dressing characters like Sex in the City’s Carrie Bradshaw and The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly. The two-level shop includes a hair and makeup salon. Another classic NoHo shopping spot is Screaming Mimi's, located at 240 West 14th Street. This vintage reseller offers unique treasures ranging from poodle skirts to 80s-style leg warmers, and stocks a variety of accessories, shoes, and fashion accents.
If shopping isn’t your thing, surly the artistic and historical side of NoHo will suit your style. Whether you spend one day or one thousand days in the neighborhood, there is always something more waiting to be discovered in NoHo.

Feature Image Credits:

"Astor Place The Cube" by Singing With Lightis licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

"Astor Place Building" by edenpicturesis licensed under CC BY 2.0

"12.16.08"by perkeis licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Anthony Butler

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