|SoHo and TriBeCa
Within only a quarter of a square mile, SoHo has an estimated 250 art galleries, four museums, nearly 200 restaurants, and 100 stores.
The blocks south of Houston (pronounced HOW-ston) and north of Canal streets are home to the city's largest concentration of the cast-iron fronted buildings, built as warehouses and manufacturing spaces, but converted to living spaces, called "lofts," for artists and sculptors who appreciated the larger spaces.
These huge, 19th-century architectural gems (Victorian Gothic, Italianiate, and neo-Grecian among them) are prized by preservationists and the well-heeled bohemians of SoHo who call the neighborhood home.
The Museum for African Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Alternative Museum are all in SoHo.
The New York Fire Museum on Spring Street displays a nostalgic and inspirational collection of hand-pulled and horse-drawn apparatus, engines, sliding poles, uniforms and fireboat equipment from the 18th through the 20th centuries - a good place to pay respects to our heroes from 9-11.
When SoHo became too upscale for starving artists, many moved further downtown to another, then-half-abandoned industrial district, TriBeCa (the Triangle Below Canal).
TriBeCa also became a hot destination, most notably for dining.
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The Alliance for Downtown New York, 800/377-1083; tours: 212/606-4064.