SohoThe term Soho can refer to:
- A locality in London, England.
- New York's SoHo district
- Soho, Birmingham
- Soho, Hong Kong
- Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO.
- SOHO is also an acronym meaning Small Office, Home Office.
Soho is an area of London's West End in the City of Westminster. It is roughly the area between Oxford Street on the north, Regent Street on the west, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square on the south, and Charing Cross Road on the east. The area to the west is Mayfair.
Soho is named after a hunting cry, dating back to the time when Soho was a small village on the outskirts of London surrounded by fields. Its name is deliberately imitated by the SoHo district of Manhattan, New York.
A major event in the history of public health was the study of an outbreak of cholera in Soho by Dr. John Snow. According to an apocryphal story, he identified the cause of the outbreak as the public water pump in Broad Street, and disabled it, thus ending the outbreak. The water pump still exists today, with a memorial plaque.
Parts of Soho have a shadowy reputation. The area has been at the heart of Britain's sex industry for at least 50 years. The 1970s was the height of the area's seediness; in an area stretching from Chinatown along Wardour Street, and up Old Compton Street, there were over 250 unlicenced shops, cinemas, clip joints and illegal bars. The Metropolitan Police Vice Squad at this time suffered from several corrupt police officers involved with enforcing organised crime control of the area.
By the 1980s purges of the police force and tightening of controls by the City of Westminster led to a crackdown on illegal premises. By the year 2000 a relaxing of censorship and the licencing or closing of unlicenced sex shops had reduced the seedy area to around Brewer Street and Berwick Street. While the area has improved, several of the strip clubs in the area were reported in London's Evening Standard newspaper in February 2003 to be rip-offs (known as 'clip joints'), aiming to intimidate customers into handing over their money and valuables. Prostitution is also widespread in parts of Soho, with many buildings unashamedly used as brothels, and there is a persistent problem with drug dealing on some street corners. It is not recommended to try and buy drugs from these people.
Soho is also notable as the home of London's main gay village, centered on Old Compton Street. The area has many clubs, bars, and resturants, as well as late night coffee shops that give the street an open all night feel at the weekends.
Soho is by the heart of London's theatre area, and a centre of the independent film and video industry, as well as the television and film post-production industry. The British Board of Film Classification, formerly known as the British Board of Film Censors, can be found in Soho Square.
Soho is criss-crossed by the rooftop free-space communications laser beams of Sohonet, which connects the Soho media and post-production community to British film studio locations such as Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios, and to other major production centres such as New York and Los Angeles, as well as providing a direct link to New Zealand's production centres.
There are also plans by Westminster council to deploy pervasive high-bandwidth Wi-Fi networks in Soho as part of a program to further encourage the development of the area as a centre for media and technology industries.
Notable places in Soho:
- Carnaby Street fashionable clothes shopping area.
- Leicester Square is a major tourist landmark
- Piccadilly Circus is another major tourist landmark
- Golden Square is a small but attractive urban square
- Soho Square is a tiny and beautiful park
- Berwick Street Market is a small market open from Monday to Saturday.
- The Raymond Revuebar was London's first legal strip club, in 1952.
- Oxford Circus tube station
- Piccadilly Circus tube station
- Tottenham Court Road tube station
- Leicester Square tube station
- Charing Cross Road is famous for its bookstores.
- Oxford Street is one of London's major shopping streets.
- Regent Street is a major shopping street, named after the Prince Regent.
- Shaftesbury Avenue has London's main concentration of theatres along its length.
- Old Compton Street is the core of the gay village.
- Wardour Street was the centre of the old British film industry, and is still the home of much of the current film industry.
- Dean Street where Karl Marx used to live
- Frith Street where John Logie Baird first demonstrated television
- Gerrard Street is the centre of London's Chinatown.