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Cortlandt Street: 1908

Cortlandt Street: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Cortlandt Street." Lapping at the balmy shores of the Glen Island Hotel, with the new Singer Building rising in the distance. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


In motion

nearly 21 years later. A Fox Movietone camera recorded street scenes on Ccrtlandt for posterity.

The New Cortlandt Street

The shopping district, known as Radio Row centered on Cortlandt Street from 1921 through its demise in 1966 when the most of the area was condemned to make room for the World Trade Center. The exact count of stores is unknown, an educated guess put it at 70 over those few blocks anchored by Cortlandt. I never worked there, in 1966 we were basically in the Kitchen Appliance and Radio/ TV business in Queens and the Nassau/Suffolk County areas. We came to Manhattan around 1974, Radio Row was gone, a mini replacement was happening on West 45th Street between 5th and Sixth Avenues. When we first got there, there were 11 storefronts there that sold Electronics, ours was the 12th. A few Cortlandt Street holdovers were in the neighborhood as well, Leonard Radio, Davega, Lafayette Radio among others. Over the next 30 years probably 25 more stores came and went. We sold our shop in 1998, My Brother retired and I stayed with the new owners for a few years . At the end only our store, Sound City and the esoteric Harvey Electronics remained and they are both now gone as well.

6th Avenue Elevated

[This shows the Ninth Avenue Elevated line, not the Sixth. - Dave]

This is looking east toward the 6th Avenue Elevated line (it is running on Greenwich Street at this point), which ran to South Ferry and where one could connect with ferries to Governors Island, Staten Island and other points. Connections could be made to 3rd Avenue and 2nd Avenue Elevated Lines at that same destination.

The conduit streetcar of the Metropolitan Railway is short-switching instead of going down to North River. It will run crosstown to East River and a point under the Brooklyn Bridge. Conduit cars replaced cable cars and drew power from rail in slot between two running rails, as shown in the photo.

Cortlandt Street, in addition to being "Radio Row," was a center for WW2 surplus and street cart merchants.

Dave's note at head of this entry is correct. My memory was faulty on this point.

The 6th and 9th Avenue Elevateds shared common track both uptown and downtown, but diverged north of Battery Place and coincided again uptown. The station on Greenwich and Cortlandt in photo is 9th Avenue line. 6th Avenue Elevated Line Station was east at Cortland and Trinity Place.

See map at :

Historical Location

Cortlandt Street has played many roles in 20th and 21st century history. It was home to "Radio Row," a substantial congregation of radio and electronics merchants from 1930 to 1970. Replaced by the now infamous Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Radio Row!

So this is what "Radio Row" was like before Marconi came along & everything went downhill.

WTC etc.

Whoa, this is basically on West Street facing east, right at the base of where the World Trade Center was.

Also, looked up Oelsner's Pilsner. Haven't found much, yet.

Cortlandt, back in 1960

At that time, Cortlandt Street was teeming with small shops, mostly associated with radio parts and consumer electronics suppliers. It was one of the travel links I used to travel up to 42nd Street in midtown, one leg in a trip that began with a drive from Plainfield NJ to the train at Scotch Plains NJ, to Jersey City, across the river by ferry, a walk up Cortlandt Street to the subway, and finally, to midtown. A most interesting and varied commuting route.

Ground Zero

The hotel sat at 115 West St & Cortlandt. It's now the site of the new World Trade towers and the 9/11 memorial.

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