SoHo New York: Mixed Use, Density, and the Power of Myth

From Introduction:

In 1960 SoHo was a derelict brownfield site, but now it is a vibrant New York district. This paper examines how the renewal occurred so rapidly and completely. The dramatic revival has resulted in a high density environment which provides the mix of uses usually associated with urban villages. High density and mixed uses have been bound together and sustained by the catalyst of myth making. These three terms, mixed use, density, and myth are first defined and their interaction over the last 200 years is plotted to demonstrate how these qualities provide a successful urban environment. This historical overview also shows how SoHo became a primary example of local residents overcoming city planners and how it is the first time that artists acted as urban pioneers. Finally the theories of Jane Jacobs and Kevin Lynch are used to understand the components of this fast and vigorous urban renewal which can offer many lessons to current brownfield sites.

Paper by Alistair Barr, 2007