Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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Soho is an area of London's West End in the City of Westminster. It is roughly the area bounded by Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square to the south, and Charing Cross Road in the east. The area to the west is known as Mayfair.
Soho is named after a hunting cry, dating back to the time when Soho was a small village on the outskirts of a London surrounded by fields. Its name is deliberately imitated by the SoHo district of Manhattan, New York, and by Soho, Hong Kong, one of the main tourist areas on Hong Kong Island.
A major event in the history of public health was the study of an outbreak of cholera in Soho by Dr. John Snow. He identified the cause of the outbreak as the public water pump in Broadwick Street (then named Broad Street), and disabled it, thus ending the outbreak. A replica of the water pump, with a memorial plaque, stands near the location of the original pump (next to the John Snow pub).
Soho is a multicultural area which is home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor.
The area has many clubs, bars, and restaurants, as well as late night coffee shops that give the street an open all night feel at the weekends. There is also a wealth of record shops, specifically around Berwick Street, where shops such as Blackmarket Records and Vinyl Junkies, dish out the freshest grooves.
London's Chinatown is centred on Gerrard Street and is a mix of restaurants (including Lee Ho Fook's made famous in Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London) and import companies. Several festivals are held throughout the year including the Chinese New Year.
Theatre and film industry
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, and at ground level with the fiber, 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 Rome, New York, Los Angeles and Australia, 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.
Soho and the sex industry
Parts of Soho have a shady 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 unlicensed 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 along with 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 licensing or closing of unlicensed 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.
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 street market open from Monday to Saturday.
- The Raymond Revuebar was London's first legal strip club, in 1952.
Nearest tube stations
- Oxford Circus tube station
- Piccadilly Circus tube station
- Tottenham Court Road tube station
- Leicester Square tube station
Major streets in or bordering Soho
- 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 Soho's 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.
- Berwick Street
- the shopping street of Carnaby Street was an icon of 1960s "Swinging London"
- Swinging London
- Pubs in Soho
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