Radio Row - At The Intersection of Radio and Forgotten New York

1920s to 1966 - Lower Manhattan - Site of Current Freedom Tower

In the area around Greenwich Street between Dey St on the north and Cortlandt St on the south there were once 40-50 mom and pop radio, TV, and electronics stores side by side. From early 20s to 1966, this was the east coast mecca if you were into radio, TV and electronics.


Old photo radio row


These stores prided themselves on their expertise and personalized customer service. Back during a time when consumer electronics was still in its infancy, radios were designed to be serviced as opposed to being thrown out when they stopped working. This was the place you went to find parts to repair your radios, TVs, or appliances.



In 1966, The Port Authority leveled the area in preparation for construction of The World Trade Center buildings. The owners of the radio and appliance stores received a small reimbursement for their closed or relocated businesses. The old store owners formed an association to wage legal battle against Port Authority's imminent domain claim but their case was thrown out in 1963. Some like Arrow, Avnet, and Schweber went on to live another day. Most of the stores went out of business.



While the dust was still settling from the demolition of Radio Row, a few blocks away in the New York Infirmary that early spring you could say Retro Radio Farm was being born. My father's first job as a Civil Engineer after he graduated was the World Trade Center project. Here's a picture taken of our family in the lobby of the World Trade Center when it first opened. My father worked at WTC2 on the 90th floor until his retirement in the late nineties.






In 2020, an exhibit in the Freedom Tower was created to commemorate the former site of Radio Row. A few Retro Radio Farm radios were selected to be a part of this exhibit telling radio history and the history of New York.




If you had a time machine, you could go back to 1965 to Radio Row in Manhattan and pick up these old radios for about $50 each. In today's dollars adjusting for inflation, that's about $419 according to the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator.

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