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Change is constant at the Gateway to SoHo

The corner of Broadway and Houston Street, dubbed the “Gateway to SoHo” has gone through many changes. Once the center of one of New York’s first red light districts, it is probably best known in recent years as the home of Forrest Myers’ The Wall on the southwest corner and remembered for the now long-gone Peter Arnell designed DKNY billboard sign on the side wall of 600 Broadway.

The DKNY billboard at Broadway and Houston was up from 1992-2009

Featured countless times in tourism and commercial photography and famously in the opening credits of the hit television show NYPD Blue, the DKNY billboard, one of the first to dot the outskirts of SoHo, became a quasi-New York City landmark. Painted in 1992 and based on a DKNY logo design featuring a NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty by Peter Arnell, the billboard replaced a tobacco advertisement that had been up since 1906.

The Hollister billboard was up on the wall from 2009 until very recently, when the new 606 Broadway building obscured it

In 2008, Abercrombie & Fitch, the company that owns Hollister, signed a 20-year lease for the commercial space at 600 Broadway and took over the rights to use the wall. The DKNY billboard was painted over with the Hollister logo in 2009.

When the proposed new billboard was put in front of Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (the building at 600 Broadway itself is in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District), there was some push back from the community, but to no avail. The New York Post quoted Brad Hoylman, Chairman of Community Board 2 as saying, “While there’s some nostalgia for the DKNY sign, it’s not exactly the Domino Sugar factory.”

A rendering of 606 Broadway from the Vornado Realty brochure (vno.com)

And now the Hollister billboard is permanently obscured, though not gone. Madison Capital and Vornado are in the later stages of constructing a commercial building on the lot next to 600 Broadway that has the address 606 Broadway.

The Gateway to SoHo has changed once more, and probably not for the last time.

Yukie Ohta is founder of The SoHo Memory Project
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