Soho is a world-famous area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London.
Broadwick Street runs west-east between Marshall Street
and Wardour Street
, crossing Berwick Street
Broadwick Street was formerly Broad Street. As such it was notorious for being the centre of an 1854 outbreak of cholera which killed 616 people. The disease was widely thought to be caused by air-borne miasma.
Physician John Snow’s hypothesis was that it spread because of germ-contaminated water. Dr Snow traced the outbreak to a public water pump on the street and disabled the pump. The outbreak ceased.
This discovery came to influence public health and the construction of improved sanitation facilities.
A replica pump, together with an explanatory plaque, was erected in 1992 close to the original location.
The site of modern Broadwick Street extends across four original estates - Colman Hedge Close, Little Gelding’s Close, Pawlett’s Garden and Pesthouse Close. Building started at the eastern end in 1686.
Until 1936, most of the street was called Broad Street and the eastern section Edward Street.
Edward Street might have taken its name from Edward Wardour, who had lived in a house near the site of the new street.
A house on the corner of Broadwick and Marshall Street
was the birthplace and childhood home of William Blake.
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The name "Soho" first appears in the 17th century. Most authorities believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry. James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, used "soho" as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685, half a century after the name was first used for this area of London. The Soho name has been imitated by other entertainment and restaurant districts such as Soho, Hong Kong; Soho, Málaga; SOHO, Beijing; SoHo (South of Horton), London, Ontario, Canada; and Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. SoHo, Manhattan, gets its name from its location SOuth of HOuston Street, but is also a reference to London’s Soho.
Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. Since the 1980s, the area has undergone considerable gentrification. It is now predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues.
Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor. It has clubs, including the former Chinawhite nightclub; public houses; bars; restaurants; a few sex shops scattered amongst them; and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open-all-night" feel at the weekends. Record shops cluster in the area around Berwick Street, with shops such as Phonica, Sister Ray and Reckless Records.