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RECENTLY UPDATED! With nearly 30 high-resolution images, maps and detailed building profiles, this is the definitive guide to one of most unique architectural features of downtown New York City. (2015)

Travel guidebooks for the ultra curious, Approach Guides reveal a destination’s essence by exploring a compelling aspect of its cultural heritage: art, architecture, history, food, or wine.

New York City’s TriBeCa and SoHo neighborhoods in downtown Manhattan are home to the largest concentration of cast iron facades in the world. Built in a short window of time from 1850-90 to support a thriving dry goods industry, these architectural gems offer an unrivaled perspective into early industrial New York, a time before skyscrapers, luxury retail and Starbucks Coffee shops on every corner. They are yours to discover.

What’s in this guidebook

  • History. We discuss the origins of the SoHo and TriBeCa neighborhoods in the 19th century and why dry goods merchants chose to base their businesses in this part of the city.
  • Cast iron technology. We explore why cast iron was the ideal choice for the facades of merchants’ “store and loft” buildings.
  • Architectural styles. We profile the five prevailing styles of facades and their defining characteristics: Roman, Venetian, Sperm Candle, Second Empire and Neo-Grec. To make things come alive, we offer high-resolution images that reveal salient architectural and decorative features with color highlights.
  • Walking tour of the highlights. Following our tradition of being the most valuable resource for culture-focused travelers, we offer a walking tour that showcases thirteen of the most impressive facades in SoHo and TriBeCa. For each, we reveal its most important architectural features and offer a discussion that ties it all together.
  • Advice for getting the best cultural experience. To help you plan your visit, this guidebook supplies logistical advice, maps and links to online resources. Plus, we give our personal tips for getting the most from your experience while on location.
  • Information the way you like it. As with all of our guides, this book is optimized for intuitive, quick navigation; information is organized into bullet points to make absorption easy; and images are marked up with text that explains important features.

As long-time residents of TriBeCa, we have created a guidebook that is deeply personal and inspires tourists and locals to look up and discover a unique asset of downtown Manhattan. With our guide, readers will come to appreciate the history and stylistic principles that gave form to New York’s magnificent cast iron building legacy.

One of the benefits of Approach Guides is that we can easily update content and release new editions of our guidebooks. These updates are free for existing customers. Please visit for a list of recently updated guides and instructions on downloading the new version.

Compulsive (and compulsively informed) travelers, the Raezers are the masterminds behind the downloadable Approach Guides, which are filled with a university course-worth of history and insights for 62 destinations worldwide. WHY WE LOVE IT: The Raezers share our desire for deep, well-researched information on the wonders of the world.
- Travel + Leisure

What started as one couple’s travel notes aimed at filling in the gaps in guidebooks has become — a menu of downloadable travel guides that cover cultural and historical topics of interest to thoughtful travelers.  What’s hot: Bite-sized travel guides that specialize in topics ranging from 29 pages on the foods of Italy to one that helps you explore the historical and architectural significance of Angkor’s famous temple structures in Cambodia.
- LA Times

Approach Guides encompass the whole cultural experience of a place, whether it is Ancient Buddhist Caves in India and China, Islamic Cairo, Ancient Mediterranean Mosaics, or a Guide to the Regional Foods of Italy. Each guide delves into the subject, truly exploring it (and making you want to GO THERE NOW). Perfect for the thinking traveler, Approach Guides are one of the best travel guides I’ve ever found.
- Wandering Educators

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