June 08, 2009

Houston St. (Broadway)

Here's a picture I took on March 17, looking downtown from the busy NW corner of the intersection of Houston St. and Broadway.

The big DKNY mural on the SE corner was painted over recently. The wall space will be used for a billboard for the store Hollister, which just moved into the SE corner store, where a big Pottery Barn store used to be. Here's a picture from today's Gawker, showing what the site looks like now.

Another SoHo landmark bites the dust. Although I disagree with this quote from the Gawker article:
Not as memorable or institutional as the tele-screens of Times Square or the Domino Sugar factory over in Queens, sure, but still a visual presence that now cedes to the neighborhood's near-complete suburban mall makeover.
Yes, the neighborhood has become a mall . . . but I don't think the removal of a DKNY billboard makes SoHo more mall-like!

The thing I'll miss most about the DKNY billboard is that it always reminded me of this amazing cartoon by Roz Chast:

March 11, 2009

Spring St. (between Thompson St. and Sullivan St.)

A new display at Chelsea Girl Couture (186 Spring St.) caught my eye -- that is one bold outfit, quite Studio 54 fabulous if you could pull it off. The display rightfully gives it solo billing in the window, supported by a phalanx of fantastic Japanese bags. I adore that giant necklace, which I believe is a hefty golden owl. Wear it and get your Athena on!

Prince St. (between Sullivan St. and Thompson St.)

Prince St. gets a little busier between Sullivan St. and Thompson St., and it's dotted with quite a few bag, jewelry, and accessory shops. Most of these are stores that exist only in SoHo.

On the southeast corner of Prince St. and Sullivan St. is the spacious Lords News International (186 Prince St.). As you can see from the printed signs, they do film processing, provide WiFi, take passport photos, send and receive faxes, sell cold soda (and beer!) and candy, and have an ATM. They also do picture framing. Mainly, though, what they sell is magazines . . . hundreds and hundreds of magazines. Their windows on Prince St. are updated regularly, but I find the tall displays overwhelming . . . it's a blitzkrieg of media, and it's hard to focus on any one magazine cover.

Another of Lords News International's windows on the Prince St. side. I only subscribe to the New Yorker on purpose, so the vast array of periodicals here befuddles me. Who reads all these magazines? Mysteriously, I also get Time Out New York (I don't do anything they suggest), Food & Wine (because I watch Top Chef?), and Genre (deeply lame and slight) in the mail, although I ordered none of those. As a sort of joke, my mother gave me a subscription to Reader's Digest for Christmas, so I am able to follow the current frightened obsessions of the elderly and chuckle at Humor in Uniform.

At 178 Prince St. is the Ward-Nasse Gallery, displaying this arresting Jesus painting. I feel a deep fondness for the remaining galleries in SoHo, since most of them have fled the mall for the newer gallery district in Chelsea.

Hans Koch (174 Prince St.) sells handcrafted, one-of-a-kind bags, purses, jewelry, and other accessories, with an emphasis on strikingly colorful and inventive leatherwork. Everything in the store is created by Bauhaus-trained Hans Koch himself and his assistants.

Another angle on the Hans Koch window, showing more of the unique bags and clutches and the jewelry hanging on the side wall.

At 181 Prince St. is Meeka Meeko (clicking that link takes you to an obsessive slideshow video of the store's wares). This is a difficult store to categorize . . . on one hand, it's a jewelry and accessories shop, overflowing with rare, idiosyncratic, and vintage items. But the store also has gifty craft items and odd object that remind me of items you usually see in shops with names such as The Whittling Fig on tourist beach town main streets that have turned quaint in order to survive.

The western window of Meeka Meeko. I kind of like the girly pink sale scrawl on the window.

Closeup of Meeka Meeko's western window. It does give the impression that you may discover a treasure amongst the clutter.

Another closeup of Meeka Meeko's eclectic and eccentric western window.

At 172 Prince St. is by boe, another bag and jewelry store. I give the display some points for the intriguing long-necked busts showing off the accessories in front of that green panel, but those points are quickly taken away because of the crappy printed "sample sale" signs.

March 10, 2009

SoHo Snapshot

I had to stand in the middle of the intersection of Sullivan St. and Spring St. to snap this photo of the Empire State Building. It was chilly and overcast in the late afternoon, which lent the sky a moody, bruised appearance.

Prince St. (between MacDougal St. and Sullivan St.)

Sorry for disappearing for a couple of weeks . . . I don't know what I was doing, really. Nothing productive, that's for sure. I just crawled into the depths of my cave and stayed inside, floating in the ether of ineffective dreaminess. It happens. Especially this time of year, when the sun moves into Pisces.

But I've resurfaced now. These shots were taken on Prince St., heading from MacDougal St. to Sullivan St. Prepare for multiple spas and salons, but otherwise this is a quiet residential block, with St. Anthony's convent on the southern Sullivan St. corner.

Menswear boutique Sean used to be on Thompson St., between Spring St. and Prince St., but it moved to its new, seemingly-smaller, similarly off-the-beaten-path location at 199 Prince St. last summer. I've always admired the store's natty, stylish suits, and I think these are the kinds of clothes I should be wearing if I ever get wealthy enough to embrace my full adulthood. Although I'm not exactly lusting after that purple scarf.

The eastern window of Sean. I could totally see myself at some literary cocktail party in that blazer or those sweaters, but again, sans that scarf.

At 196 Prince St. is Erbe, an Italian herbal beauty spa. The inconspicuous, discreet entrance suits its elite clientele, which supposedly includes many celebrities such as Kate Moss and Lauren Hutton.

A closeup of the Erbe window, with a Gothic white banister and some cherubim from Cabanel's Birth of Venus.

Across the street is another salon, also underground, the Japanese Salon Hoshi Coupe, at 193 Prince St. Apparently, the haircuts are cheap but phenomenal, and the low-key space is comforting. But I'm stuck on that literal representation of ball-and-chain in the front.

On the corner of Prince St. and Sullivan St., across the street from the convent, is our third beauty shop on the block, Ling, at 191 Prince St. My favorite part of the Ling shop is outside the store . . . that funky tile on the sidewalk.

February 28, 2009

Nuchtern House (Northeast Corner of MacDougal St. and Prince St.)

One of the most intriguing and beautiful sets of windows in SoHo belongs to the Nuchtern House, located on the corner of MacDougal St. and Prince St. The house has two addresses: 34 MacDougal St. and 205 Prince St., which just shows you how big the thing is. Besides being a lovely and very large single-family house, which is rare enough in SoHo, its four giant street-level windows positively teem with gorgeous vegetation.

I stole the above picture from the blog New York Daily Photo, because I didn't take a full picture of the whole house. On that site, I also learned that the home is owned by Anna and Simon Nuchtern. Simon Nuchtern, originally from Belgium, is a filmmaker, formerly for August Films. He now runs Katina Productions, a film and video production and subtitling services company, out of his SoHo home. The two large grates in the sidewalk on the Prince St. side are also fascinating, as there are huge windowboxes outside the below-ground windows, with giant hostas reaching up toward the sun.

I took this picture, and the following window pictures. This is the single tall window of Nuchtern House on the MacDougal St. side, showing the amazing variety of cacti and hanging plants. The greenery is so dense that you can't see past the wall of vegetation.

The westernmost window on the Prince St. side. I go out of my way to walk past these windows regularly, and I'm always disappointed when the shades are down. When I saw that the windows were open on this pass, I had to stop and take pictures.

The middle window on the Prince St. side. How long does it take to water these plants regularly? (Luckily, most of them appear to be water-retaining cacti and bromeliads.) More than a green thumb, one of the Nuchterns has a green hand.

The easternmost window of the Nuchtern House on the Prince St. side. It's a jungle in there!

MacDougal St.

In the northwest corner of SoHo is the tail end of MacDougal St., which is only one block long south of W. Houston St. on the east side. On this part of MacDougal St.'s west side, it's broken up by a short, one-way block of King St. that barely gets any traffic at all. MacDougal St. ends at Prince St., where the angle of Sixth Avenue doesn't give it room to continue, and the street merges into the narrow Father Fagan Park.

North of W. Houston St., MacDougal St. is a busy bazaar of little stores, coffeehouses, head shops, restaurants, bars, and unique, international take-out joints, mostly catering to the tourist trade and feeding the NYU students' appetites. On the south side of W. Houston St., in SoHo proper, MacDougal St. is quiet and mostly residential, and has St. Anthony's school building on it, so there is only room for a few out-of-the-way restaurants . . . and just two storefronts on the whole block.

At 51 MacDougal St. is the mysterious and eccentric Something Special, which offers mailbox and notary public services, makes keys, and sells offbeat gift items. Apparently, the store has quite a following with the local celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Lucy Lawless, and Patti Smith.

The reflection of St. Anthony's school can be seen in the window. The school is now being used by the Cardinal Cooke Academy for Learning and Development, a school-based special education provider.

Across the street is the Koho School of Sumi-E (64 MacDougal St.), where the instructor Koho Yamamoto conducts classes in brush painting and calligraphy, and displays her own art. This is the storefront school's northern window.

Here's the southern window at the Koho School of Sumi-E, showing a Sumi-E portrait perhaps done by Koho herself.

And that's the entirety of the storefronts on the SoHo side of MacDougal St.