Ah Park Row – where government and commerce meet. City Hall, and the far-more-important J&R stores sit directly across from each other with only the triangular park as a buffer. I remember as a kid listening to Yankee radio broadcasts and hearing commercials for "J&R Music and Computer World" which would proudly end with "Located on Park Row, across from City Hall". At the time I didn't know where that was, how the street was configured, or why City Hall would be in such a lame part of town that its neighbor would be an electronics retailer.
Years later I'm now well aware of Park Row's location in Manhattan, and have actually become quite a fan of the area. With the maze of streets that sprawl out behind J&R, the Brooklyn Bridge to the north, and of course City Hall and City Hall Park to the west, there's a lot of variety here. Taking up what appears to be 75 small storefronts, J&R is a megacomplex that occupies the majority of the block between Ann Street and Beekman St – only halting for a moment for Wienstein and Holtzman Hardware to peek its face through. Each instance of J&R sells a different category of products, so lord help you if you enter the wrong entrance.
Park Row itself is rather short with a myriad of twists and turns at its beginning and end. Down at the base, by St.Paul Chapel a series of turns and lights make it difficult for pedestrians to find their way without getting run over by bridge or FDR traffic.
Historically this used to be the place for the city's newspapers. It's also home to one of the very first "skyscrapers" (15 Park Row). Of course the presence of City Hall alone lends plenty of historical significance to the neighborhood. What often strikes visitors as strange is the fact that the City Hall building itself faces south – towards the Battery, and not much else. Meanwhile several miles of major New Yorkness sits behind it. What one needs to consider is that when it was built (in the early 19th Century – making it the oldest City Hall in the country) there wasn't much more than farmland north of Canal Street; the majority of the city was contained in what is now known as the Financial District, so that's the way it faced.