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Meanwhile, the southern part of Soho was sold by the Crown in parcels in the 16th and 17th centuries, with part going to Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester.
Soho's population increased rapidly during this time, reaching 327 inhabitants per acre by 1851; then one of the most densely populated areas of London.
Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor.
It has clubs, including the former Chinawhite nightclub; public houses; bars; restaurants; a few sex shops scattered amongst them; and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open-all-night" feel at the weekends.
A considerable number of hospitals were built to cope with the health problem, with six being constructed between 18.
In the early 20th century, foreign nationals opened cheap eating-houses, and the neighbourhood became a fashionable place to eat for intellectuals, writers and artists.
Soho is part of the West End electoral ward which elects three councillors to Westminster City Council.
In the Middle Ages, what is now Soho was known as Saint Giles Field, a farmland belonging to the Convent of Abingdon and the master of Burton St Lazar Hospital in Leicestershire, who owned a leper hospital in St Giles in the Fields.) to Joseph Girle, who gained permission to build and promptly passed his lease and licence to bricklayer Richard Frith in 1677. In 1698 William III granted the Crown freehold of most of this area to William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland.
By the mid-18th century, the aristocrats who had been living in Soho Square or Gerrard Street had moved away.
Soho's character stems partly from the ensuing neglect by rich and fashionable London, and the lack of redevelopment that characterised the neighbouring areas.
Soho is an area of the City of Westminster and is part of the West End of London, England.
Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies.
The area to the west is known as Mayfair, to the north Fitzrovia, to the east St Giles and Covent Garden, and to the south St James's.