Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Canal Electronics

Back on Canal, there are these odd little electronics shops. They are not the same as the forever going out of business electronics shops of 14th Street or Times Square. You don't come here, as far as I can tell, to buy a new digital camera.

Outside, in cardboard boxes, are weird wares. A box full of busted-looking remote controls for $2.00! A small assortment of fire alarm bells! Broken motherboards and gutted cameras! AM/FM radios! Piles of tangled wires for god-knows-what!

Off in the corner, a box of grungy keyboards separated from their PCs (long-dead dinosaurs leeching chemicals into some far-off landfill), mushroom-colored keyboards sticky with spilled Coca-Cola and sneezes, waiting to be adopted.

How can you not delight in the fact that junk like this perseveres, despite the overwhelming odds against its survival? Not trash, but treasure. With someone, somewhere, it will find a purpose.


  1. i wonder if any of these moved up from Radio Row when the WTC was built in the 70s? i remember reading that a bunch of really hardcore old-timey electronic shops were on vesey on the west side, and the vintage of the awnings in these photos looks about right.

  2. I loved going to Radio Row with my dad, who was an avid hobbyist. Even got a soldering iron for my thirteenth birthday. Dad helped design the phone systems for the WTC.

  3. henry--I used to accompany my Father to these old timey electronic shops--Dad would pick up stuff to make his own timers-etc. Vesey Street it was!! They had good stuff back in the day.

  4. I believe this store, along with a couple others still surviving on Canal, is a vestige of the SoHo of old where artists in the 70s (Nam June Paik in particular..RIP), would come to get supplies for their sculptural pieces. Probably won't be around too much longer, especially on this stretch of Canal where at least 3 new super-lux condo buildings, and 3 new super-lux hotels are finishing construction within the 2 block radius. However, I wouldnt be surprised if this store owner also owns this 1-story building...then its just a matter of when he decides to cash out and sell the lot.

  5. Wow. The previous commenters are after my heart. I grew up just below Canal in the 80's and really love all those old electronics/specialty hardware/surplus stores that are so much fun for the right kind of street level downtown geek, or whatever the right name would be. It really is incredibly sad to see a die hard stretch like Canal finally fall victim to chains, cafes and hotels but I do revel in this information about Vesey st. News to me. I have always been interested in the former neighborhood that WTC demolished (former Tribeca Middle Easterners who finally moved to Atlantic Ave, BK?) so I appreciate that info. Anyway, long live the Lower West Side!

  6. I've a query to ask readers. Years ago on Broadway in the Lower East Side ( just above Houston street) there was a restaurant that had a full sized Chinese war junk suspended from its ceiling. It had warrior figures on it . The war junk was racing towards a giant hand holding an unconscious "princess" in its grip. I wonder if anyone , unlike myself, took a pix of this lost treasure?


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