To get a glimpse of SoHo before all the stores moved in, visit this mysterious installation, created by Walter De Maria in 1977 and maintained by Dia Art Foundation (closed in summer, see website for hours). Ring the bell at the discreet entrance and, once buzzed in, climb the stairs. The name says it all: You’ll find a vast industrial space covered in a fragrant 22-inch-deep layer of earth and peat. The experience is a portal to a time when SoHo was known for ramshackle artists’ lofts and cutting-edge galleries instead of luxury apartments and designer boutiques. Around the corner at 393 West Broadway, another De Maria work, The Broken Kilometer – made up of five parallel rows of two-metre-long brass rods – has less of a speakeasy feel, but will also have you marvelling that such a large chunk of prime real estate is still reserved for thought-provoking art.
The New York Earth RoomA tucked-away installation that evokes arty 1970s SoHo
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