Radio Row

Radio Row was a district on Manhattan’s lower west side that contained numerous warehouses and retail shops. Their specialty was radios, televisions and other electronics. The neighborhood was centered on Cortlandt Street. In 1927, The New York Times made an early reference to an event at this location. The neighborhood was a hotbed of activity on Saturday mornings as New York residents searched for vacuum tubes and other components that they needed to keep their radios and TVs operating.

At one time, there were more than 40 radio and electronics stores in a five-block radius. The area fell on difficult times as a result of the rationing and shortages of World War II. It never fully recovered. The passing was even lamented in the Times. In 1961, the Port Authority began the process of eminent domain to remove businesses for the purpose of constructing the World Trade Center.

This governmental action resulted in a two-year legal battle. The beleaguered business owners eventually lost. Each one received $3,000 to compensate them for their losses. Currently, there is no comparable concentration of electronic stores anywhere in the city. You can see a black-and-white mural depicting Radio Row in its heyday in the Trade Center’s PATH station.


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