I remember catching one episode of The City back in my final years of high school where Olivia Palermo, the girl the producers clearly made out to be the antagonist-villain, once said, “There are two kinds of people in New York: the uptown socialites and the downtown hipsters.”
Obviously a really dumb thing to say, given that there are 8 million people living in New York City, but she did have somewhat of a point: when living in New York, most people have a preference for uptown or downtown Manhattan (because nobody purposely chooses to spend all of their free time in midtown). For me, I was/am/always will be a fan of uptown, where the crowds are kept to a minimum, where the hangout spots are more low-key, and where Central Park is only a ten-minute walk away.
But then again, it’s New York City, so you tend to feel the need to be in a million places at once. For me, going “so far downtown” as SoHo meant I was either going to Paris Sandwich to get milk tea and a vegetarian vietnamese baguette or to get my disposable camera developed at the nameless camera store in Chinatown. SoHo, for me, was a neighborhood I avoided due to the masses of tourists and also due to all the restaurants I knew I could never afford.
But don’t worry too much, you guys. I do know SoHo enough to know that the tourists herd around Broadway and/or try to find any Kardashian inside the DASH store, that students visit SoHo to check out the discounts at the American Apparel factory outlet, and that locals grab their baguettes at Balthazar and look for books at McNally Jackson.
Although I’m not a lover of SoHo, I am a fan of the grittiness of the SoHo side streets right off Broadway – where you’ll find cobblestones, cast-iron architecture, graffiti, street art, and finally, a lot less crowdedness.