Radio Row Memories

Last Sunday, we had the pleasure to interview Ed Schneck about his memories of “Radio Row,” the neighborhood of electronics shops that existed in Lower Manhattan before the construction of the World Trade Center. His father, H.L. Schneck, opened up the first radio parts store on Cortland street in 1921. It was wonderful to hear about his father’s forays into the wild west of early radio and to also learn about the cornucopia of stores that existed in Lower Manhattan that reveled not only in technological innovation but fierce competition as well.

Here you can see Will wrangling audio cables while Ed Schneck patiently waits.

Setting up the interview

Every sit-down interview needs to be carefully set up and lit– the whole process usually takes an hour or more! Thank you to the amazing Patrick Brooks for your cinematographic expertise on the day’s shoot.

The Radio Row neighborhood’s original footprint was quite large:

A 1924 arial composite of the Radio Row neighborhood  with the footprint of the World Trade Center

This Radio Diaries audio piece gives a good feel for the sounds of the vanished neighborhood. There description states that:

in the early 1920’s, radio was a novelty. But within a few years, hundreds of radio stores popped up around Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan. There was Leotone Radio, Cantor the Cabinet King, Blan the Radio Man…The neighborhood became a bazaar of knobs, antenna kits, and radio tubes. It was the largest collection of radio and electronics stores in the world. But when developers planned the World Trade Center, Radio Row had to go.


And if your appetite has been whetted for more cacophonies of old New York, then this New York City in the 1920’s website is just what the doctor ordered as it is an “interactive exploration of the historical soundscape of New York City.”  Enjoy!

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