The absolute beating funky heart of London, both geographically, and of the massively important media community, Soho is a wonderful place to hang out, filled with amenities, wealthy, cool, and provides a surprising number of good places to live - very multicultural, very varied. Surprisingly, its current cool, its current good reputation, is all down to its darker side.
Soho has always been a bit of a dark little surprise. The area is extremely central - bounded by Charing Cross Road, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, it's about as near to being truly the centre of the West End as you can get. Though it's a very old area (the name Soho derives from a 17th century hunting call), Soho's modern reputation was dominated from the late 40s by its being a centre of the offbeat, jazz type scene (a fact commemorated by its still housing Ronnie Scott's jazz club). But in truth, though its musical heritage is important, it was its role in the 'sleaze' industry that made it big. With all the adult clubs and shops in the area, it was to an extent a bit of a no-go (no-go Soho) place to be for the respectable.
What this did - and how it created the modern Soho - was drive rental prices down. The burgeoning media companies of the 1980s saw their opportunity to get into the centre of town, and bought up bigtime. And this is the tapestry of modern Soho - dominated by the media industry, with the adult industry confined to a small area; it's filled with young, cool and well-paid people. Soho is full also of bars, of high end restaurants and cheap eats, of little expensive boutiques and stores, of independent cinemas, of plush gyms and extremely hard to enter members' clubs. It houses funky little markets on Berwick Street, in the shadow of media giants and the gods of design. A place, therefore, of contrasts - not least in the fact that it still maintains its edge, darker feel, which is curiously vital in making Soho the place it is.
Living in Soho isn't easy, in the sense that there is strong competition for its sprinkling of flats and very, very few houses (there really aren't any to speak of: some occasionally may come up, and are gone quickly). Flats and maisonettes, some in little blocks, and some above restaurants, are the mainstay of property here. Roof terraces are seen as a huge advantage, any with these should be seen immediately. If you want energy, if you want funky, and if you're an artist, media worker or designer looking to live large, there are very few places comparable.
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Area News for Soho
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