It’s no Flatiron, but these days Soho is a popular place to locate your startup. One building alone, 568 Broadway, is home to Thrillist, Foursquare, ZocDoc, and 10Gen. But it wasn’t so long ago that the neighborhood was an entirely different beast, and today offered a pretty bleak reminder as FBI investigators closed a stretch of Prince Street. They were digging for the body of first grader Etan Patz, who vanished 33 years ago and inspired a nationwide kidnapping panic.
The New York Times spoke to several longtime residents, including 73-year-old Judy Reichler, who told them:
“It was back in the ’70s, and there was nothing in Soho, really,” Ms. Reichler said. “There was one little restaurant called Food. Otherwise, there was nothing there except artists and their families.”
Soho Alliance director Sean Sweeney insisted that “seedy” wasn’t quite the right description: “The docks were sleazy. It was gritty.”
New York tech folks including Thrillist founder Ben Lerer and Crowdtap Director of Marketing Ben Kessler stumbled onto the investigation:
@benjlerer yes, walked right into a swarm of FBI agents, was crazy! Wild they reopened the case 33 years later.
— Ben Kessler (@kessler) April 19, 2012
Looks like Prince between W. Broadway and Greene is going to be closed for the next few days for FBI Etan Patz investigation. — Ben Kessler (@kessler) April 20, 2012
We reached out to Mr. Lerer for more detail, and he told us that the news is more distracting than the actual disruption.
BuzzFeed executive editor Doree Shafrir biked past it:
KSBP social media strategist Sarah Faye Kauffman thought the upheaval seemed pretty well in line with the neighborhood character:
Barricades, NYPD, FBI, every newscaster in town. Just another typical day in SoHo. twitter.com/SarKauff/statu…
— Sarah Faye Kauffman (@SarKauff) April 20, 2012
Of course, some people got a little confused as to the real tragedy here. Video game designer Dan Lazin reported:
Exasperated woman in SoHo: “The FBI ruins /everything/.”
— Dan Lazin (@danlazin) April 20, 2012
Let’s be charitable and assume that was followed by a “just kidding” after Mr. Lazin was out of earshot.