Best remnant of old (old) Soho - 2007
The first floor of 94 Prince Street had been used as a saloon for 73 years (and a speakeasy for two) when Michael Fanelli took over the place in 1922. Back before Soho had a name, in the days when Robert Moses planned to turn the entire area into an entrance ramp for his proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway, Fanelli's— officially, Fanelli Café—was a workers' bar. By night, the artists took over, drawn like hungry moths to the only light burning in the whole nameless neighborhood. The sewing factories and the starving artists are long gone, and 21st-century Prince Street is a lane of overpriced boutiques, its sidewalk clogged with tables hawking cheap jewelry, bound movie scripts, and T-shirts. The old WPA-style post office has been transformed into an Apple emporium, but somehow Fanelli Café remains to hold down its corner of the block, pitched roof and tin ceiling intact, the last living landmark in the historic district.