Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation for sex shops, bustling night life and film industry. Since the early 1980s, the area has undergone considerable transformation. It is now a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only remnants of its risqué character.
Soho’s raunchy reputation goes way back in time. As early as 1719 Philip, Duke of Wharton established the Hellfire Club – a brothel targeted at distinguished members of the society. Between 1778 and 1801 21 Soho Square was the location of the White House, a brothel described by Henry Mayhew as ‘a notorious place of ill-fame’. In the early 1980s there were almost 200 sex establishments in the area.