Cover of the “Lincoln Square Slum Clearance Plan.” Image from New York Public Library.
Yesterday, we covered 10 buildings that refused to be demolished in the face of development. These spunky buildings (and the people who lived in or owned them, of course), make for some of the best New York City stories. Sometimes however, whole neighborhoods get lost in New York. Many have made way for some of New York City’s most famous neighborhoods, but today we’re highlighting some of the stories and people who once traversed the streets daily.
1. Radio Row, now World Trade Center
Radio Row. Photo from New York Public Library
In the shadow of the original World Trade Center was Radio Row, a jumbled 13-block neighborhood packed to the gills with radio stores for retail and repair, surplus parts, and hardware stores, rounded out with clothing shops, jewelers, stationery and more. Looking back, it’s what urban planners now a days might use as an example of great, activated streets, with some enterprising retailers selling their wares in the middle of the road as well.
Eminent domain was used evict and buy out the retailers and approximately 100 residents of Radio Row, who fought back with protests and lawsuits. But the wheel of New York City’s urban development and renewal was too strong in the 1960s and eventually the entire area was cleared for the new World Trade Center site.