A. Soho is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan and refers to the area South of Houston Street (and bounded by Canal Street to the South, Crosby Street to the East and Sixth Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to the West). The name was coined by Chester Rapkin, an urban and author of the 1963 South Houston Industrial Report, eponymously referred to as the "Rapkin Report".
SoHo (South of Houston) has had many interesting incarnations. It was a lively theater and shopping district and the entertainment center of New York. It was home to many brothels with Broadway’s side streets serving as the red light district.
When the middle class left, it was taken over by small manufacturers, including makers of china and glassware, locksmiths, cabinet makers and book publishers. It also had its roots as a mercantile and whole dry goods trade center. If you have ever noticed, many of the buildings in SoHo are only five-stories high, earning the region the moniker "The Valley". Later, it was called Hell’s Hundred Acres, because many firefighters lost their lives putting out fires from paper goods that engulfed those buildings.
In 1973, Soho was christened the Cast-Iron Historic District. Cast iron was used as a decorative front on 250 buildings constructed from 1840 to 1880. One can see a glimmer of those cast-iron facades in Hollywood films set in the neighborhood, including "Ghost" and Martin Scorsese’s little-known black comedy "After Hours".
Artists moved to Soho in the 1970s, attracted by SoHo’s large windows, high ceilings, vast floor space and –would you believe it?--- cheap rent. This was after manufacturing and commerce left in the 1970s. The artists would eventually make SoHo their permanent home, thanks to a zoning resolution. Today, it is home to high-end retail chains, luxury apartments and startups like Meetup.com and FourSquare.