This collection comprises a subset of the many photographs of SoHo buildings taken by Robert Weinreb (ca. 1970) for SoHo’s application to be designated a Historic District by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
SoHo is also known as the Cast-Iron Historic District, as it was designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in August 1973. Ornate cast iron facades were originally used to spruce up pre-existing buildings, but was later used in new construction as well. There are approximately 250 cast iron buildings in New York City, most of them in SoHo and mostly dating from the mid to late-1800’s. An American invention, cast iron facades were not only less expensive to produce than stone or brick, but also much faster, as they were made in molds rather than carved by hand, and stuck to the face of buildings. In addition, the same mold could be used for multiple buildings and a broken piece could easily be recast, making it a very efficient decorative method. Because iron is pliable, ornate window frames could be designed, while the strength of the iron also allowed for enlarged windows that let floods of light into buildings as well as high ceilings in vast spaces with only columns necessary for support.
Although cast iron architecture enjoyed short-lived popularity as an architectural style, being replaced by steel-skeleton construction with high speed elevators by the 1880’s, some consider the buildings of SoHo precursors to the skyscraper and therefore hold much historic significance in the development of New York City.
This collection includes 292 photographs organized by street name.
This collection was digitized thanks to a generous Archival Assistance Grant from the New York Preservation Archive Project and the Shelby White & Leon Levy Foundation.