by Kevin Walsh

Forgotten NY correspondent

I was in Lower Manhattan recently headed to a national stationery store to purchase computer ink. Don’t get me started on how computer printer companies gouge you on the price of ink and the strategies they use to make you buy more. That’s a story for another day. When I got to Vesey Street & Broadway, I saw the J&R logo on their former building at Ann Street & Park Row, and was reminded about how J&R held guard on almost the entire block of Park Row, between Ann and Beekman Streets. 
Over the years, I spent an untold fortune there on electronic equipment, vinyl and CDs. Actually, I began shopping at J&R around 1974 when I believe they only occupied a storefront. Over the years they grew to where each storefront specialized in different areas such as computers, musical instruments, cameras, audio video and recorded music.
This complex known as J&R Music World was started  by (J)oseph and (R)achelle Friedman in 1971 as something to augment their income. Over the years, the store  became very successful. I’ve been there around the Christmas holidays and entrance to the store had to be restricted due to overcrowding. But like many brick and mortar stores, they succumbed to the growing practice of consumers  shopping on computers instead of going to a retail location.  As a result, the business model they relied on for so long was no longer sustainable.
It appears that the real estate J&R stood on was worth more than the store. The Friedmans purchased property years ago, I guess, as an act of speculation. The bet paid off because the Friedmans,  along with L&M Development Partners of New York, are building, as of this writing,  upscale apartment buildings with 1-4 bedroom units.
[In anticipation of switching over to a new template soon, I have begun using Featured Images for One-Shot Pages again; hence, they won’t be visible on mobiles until the switch occurs. Bear with me… —ed.]

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Tal Barzilai November 24, 2018 - 6:30 pm

I just hope that whatever goes there will at least preserve the sign for J&R as a reminder for them.

Cee cee December 21, 2018 - 6:36 pm

So sad, didn’t realize J &R Music World was GONE!!!! Just told my sister today about needing to go there…only to google it, and find this article and these comments!….Times are definitely changing…..

Edward November 24, 2018 - 9:01 pm

I remember when this wing of J&R was constructed sometime in the 1990s. Not a spectacular structure, but at least the kept the facade in line with the gorgeous circa 1898 Park Row Building next door. They also used similar colors and lined up the storefronts to somewhat match its 1898 neighbor.

Jim November 27, 2018 - 1:51 pm

I remember when J & R opened in 1971, in a basement on Park Row. I was working at the South Street Seaport Museum, and over the years I bought a lot of vinyl, cassettes and CDs there, as well as almost every electronic device I’ve ever owned. The staff were always friendly and helpful, I miss the place.

It was a real neighborhood back then, now it’s just another patch of cookie-cutter blandness.

Mario November 29, 2018 - 10:01 am

Thanks for this article. I worked right across City Hall Park in the beautiful Woolworth Building (one of my favorite buildings in NYC), and spent a good deal of time at J&R Music. J&R also hosted live music across Park Row in the park as well.

Sad to see them gone, and a new condo has sprung up in its place. How about a piece on Music Row, on W.48th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues, where Manny’s, Rudy’s Music and other musical instrument emporiums were the center of musical instrument heaven, now also totally gone.

I am 65, and more and more of the New York I knew disappears every day.

Sal December 5, 2018 - 12:41 pm

In the 1990’s, when they just opened their new building, I used to go there often. Take the escalator up a couple of flights to the software section and buy the latest Humongous Entertainment release for the kids; Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam, Putt-Putt, Spy Fox, Backyard Baseball and many other kid-friendly titles. Also bought goodies for myself such as a graphics card, a firewire card, talk-to-text hardware and software and much, much more.

On the evening of September 10, 2001 I bought a Barney video for the young nieces and nephews. As I left the store, I noticed the brightly-lit twin towers dominating the night sky a couple of blocks away. The terror attacks of the next morning closed off much of lower Manhattan for weeks. I don’t remember when J&R reopened, nor do I remember if I ever visited it again.

Erik Lui February 23, 2019 - 7:42 pm

I missed J&R music world. I still remember the first time I shop at J&R store for my Technics Hifi stereo receiver back in the 80’s. The staffs was so friendly and help me through the set up and choose the a really nice NHT tall speaker goes with the receiver. The stereo Set up it was the state of the art on that time. Even since, when I need to puschase any music related products. I will go to J&R music world. It was so sad to hear they were closed due to reconstructions of the building. I am looking forward to J&R music world come back in the near future.


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