Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

Posts tagged “architecture

Photo of the day: LOOSING NEW YORK

LOOSING OUR NYC

We have been loosing our city at a rapid speed since the 12 year Bloomberg administration. Our new mayor Bill DeBlasio didn’t make things any better. A shill and phoney sell-out as our city’s history continues to be torn down left and right while being raped by an overbuilding of glass towers where they ought not to be.
As a tour guide I am supposed to tell people how wonderful New York City is...I do. But they don’t see that Harlem is now only 40% black, overrun by self-righteous white yuppies renovating Harlem’s brownstones pushing the original residents out. Greenwich Village once an epicenter of gay culture, dance clubs, cool quirky shops, cutting edge boutiques is now devoid of anything gay, buried in GAP, Polo, Starbucks, Sephora, Michael Kors, more GAP, more Polo, more Michael Kors. (Btw, Michael Kors being a screaming queen doesn’t count.)
The mushroom rate of the ‘space needle’ über high, über rich residential high rises on 57th and 58th Streets will put parts of Central Park’s south end into permanent shadow at certain times of the year. Jackie Onassis is turning in her grave.
Jackie O. would also be horrified to discover that grand Central Terminal is to be encased in super tall, super glassy high rises, therefore dwarfing the spectacular station, reducing it to a needle in a haystack.
Tribeca and Soho once filled with artists and art spaces are now filled with tourists artfully shopping. Times Square has become a 2nd rate shopping mall filled with Elmos badgering your for $5 photos. The lower east side aka ‘the Bowery’ is rapidly loosing any trace of our large immigrant history. It IS filled with our ‘new immigrants’ the young rich, spacey Millennials, trust fund babies and tech company millionaires. Apartments costing $1 million in the Bowery are cheap.
Little Italy is nothing but 6 or so blocks of Italian restaurants trying to hang on while the Chinese and the stores of Soho eat up their once large thriving Italian neighborhood. Fuggedaboudit.
New York’s harbor was once the busiest harbor in the world. Today, with a combination of damage from hurricane Sandy and the sheer greed of the Bloomberg/DeBlasio real estate ‘developers’, in South Street Seaport nothing will be left but a few gratuitous red brick buildings and only one old sailing ship to be now surrounded by a mirror glass ersatz ‘Pier 17’ and two gigantically tall mirror glass ‘luxury towers’ encroaching on America’s historical land mark the Brooklyn Bridge.
Go to Brooklyn then you say? Oh no, that is being gentrified at a hyper speed such has been never witnessed before in America. The foot of the Brooklyn Bridge is now being encased in a towering glass apartment building in DUMBO and the once spectacular view of the bridge from the Brooklyn Heights promenade is now obliterated by a gigantic apartment complex. If anyone would have told me that one day the views of the Brooklyn Bridge will be gone, I’da said you’re nuts.
Further in Brooklyn, whites buying $1+ million town homes in Bedford–Stuyvesant is now the norm. What was once our largest African American neighborhood, now has it’s residents being forced to go back to their Southern roots where they might be able to afford the rent. Meanwhile ultra hipster Williamsburg battles it out with ultra orthodox Satmar Jewish Williamsburg for real estate, who will win is anybody’s guess.
Hey, but Hans you’re safe in Queens. Not so, as my neighborhood fights off the flood of ‘poor upper middle class’ who can’t quite afford the $500,000 to $1 million dollar glass towers of the East River’s Long Island City. One by one we are seeing the affordable shops disappear, street vendors forbidden and a slimey corrupt councilman like Jimmy Van Bramer sign off on real estate deals wiping places like the spectacular 5 Pointz Graffiti Museum and the immigrant’s car-repair shops of Willet’s Point off the map while he brown noses his way up in the mayor’s administration.
If anyone has noticed, I haven’t posted daily “Photos of the Day” since mid June, I needed time to reflect. I will continue to tell people how ‘wonderful’ New York is, but I will also tell them that the city is an illusion, a big grand, sparkling, smoke & mirrors illusion. With my camera I will try to find something worth capturing that someone’s cell phone camera has not. My main concentration will be on researching and writing a book about my Von Rittern land baron roots in Bremen, Germany, and a second book on my Broadway stage door memories.
In the meanwhile, my German guests, while taking my tours say to me, “Sadly, it’s happening in Germany too, capture it while you can.”
I’ll try.

Postcard story from New York – “A GRANDE DINNER FOR TWO in 1914- 100 YEARS AGO TODAY”

1914 DINNER collage

Postcard story from New York – “A GRANDE DINNER FOR TWO in 1914- 100 YEARS AGO TODAY”

New York, July 30, 1914

“Churchill‘s,” Broadway and Forty-ninth Street, New York.

 

To: Mrs. Wm. A. Johnson

250 N. Water

Franklin, Ind.

“Wed. evening,

Dearest Momma,

Have just gotten back from having dinner here. A Mr. Barkus from South Carolina to me and little Miss Blair to dinner. He sent us both roses – mine were two dozen cream tea roses. He left on the train for S.C. and sent us home in a taxi,

With lots of love,

Maude

A grande evening was had by all 100 years ago to the day. It seems Mr. Barkus from South Carolina was quite a gentlemen sending the two ladies home in taxis and roses the next day!

In Times Square things were still ’rosey’, but World War I had just been declared and two days later Germany had declared war on Russia.

Churchill’s was ’the’ place to be at the time. Lobsters! Champagne! Showgirls!

For the decade before Prohibition, Churchill’s Restaurant and Cabaret was one of the largest and swankiest of the “lobster palaces” along the Great White Way.

The eponymous establishment was the creation of ex-NYPD Captain Jim Churchill. Located on Broadway at 49th Street, the eatery could accommodate 1,200 patrons and employed a staff of 300. Guests could dine on the special for a mere buck-twenty five, listen to live music, dance and rub shoulders with denizens of the theater district like actress Anna Held and philanthropist and nightlife fixture Diamond Jim Brady.

Attempting to refute the notion of the scandalous, sinful “Broadway Life” popular in the fictions of the day, Churchill said “Broadway is simply the Coney Island of night-time New York, where some of the people play a bit, eat a bit, drink a bit, talk, sing and laugh a bit—and get a bit dizzy. But the dizziness imparted by Broadway is no more fatal than the dizziness that comes from riding on a gaudily-painted merry-go-round…”

Shortly after the passage of the Volstead Act in 1921, which established prohibition, Churchill shuttered his business, leasing the ground floor to the Toy Yoeng Syndicate of America, which converted it into a Chinese restaurant – today known as the popular Ruby Foos.

(Note the bandshell in the way back above the crowd, that’s Maurice Levi and his orchestra. Kinda like the Harmonia Gardens in Hello Dolly, 2 girls out for dinner on the town.)

 churchills-NB

 


Photo of the day: Far away . . .

GONE gone©

Photo of the day: Gone far away . . .


Photo of the day: FLORAL TRIBUTE FOR DEATH OF A PIANO

DEATH OF A PIANO

FLORAL MEMORIAL TO A LOST TUNE – Sadly one of New York’s most beloved recent attractions has been destroyed. First by taggers, then (supposedly) by the sea itself. See my post of June 2nd when I discovered the Mason and Hamlin piano there on the shores of our East River/Atlantic Ocean right under the Brooklyn Bridge. It became fodder for every news reporter, tourists loved it and New Yorkers adopted it. The police and harbor patrol looked the other way as people hopped over the gate to be photographed with the piano, the ‘beach’ there is not for public access especially since at high tide the water reaches the West Side Highway. But flock they did, as did I several times. Check out the Internet and you will find some of the most creative and joyful photos taken with it.

I did some research myself. The serial number under the key board, 335 26661, according to Mason & Hamlin’s web site, places it around the year 1915. Mason & Hamlin was founded by Henry Mason who was actually a direct descendent of the pilgrims of the Mayflower!
piano driftwood
As to it’s mysterious origins, a so-called ‘street artist’ named HEK TAD took credit for it. Not until 2 weeks later when he tagged it with his spray painted logo all over it, did he lay claim. If you try to find photos of him, he is this skinny little kid, I sure hope he had plenty-a-help lifting that heavy baby grand over the 30″ gate and onto the beach and that tow truck musta been expen$ive. IF, if he indeed is responsible – he should have just left a sign taking credit, not destroying it’s melancholy beauty with his garish white spray paint markings. Many, including me, sought to paint over the markings and gladly finally someone did with what seemed to be some “oops paint” bought cheaply at hardware stores.
One of the last people to be photographed with the piano, is my friend and model Diana Amirova in an early morning photo shoot. I am so glad her beauty did it justice.
Diana Amirova

Diana Amirova

So finally now this proud 99 year old piano is giving up it’s ghost and surrendering to the mighty sea.
When I arrived this past Thursday to check on the piano, someone had left a floral memorial tribute to the beautiful graceful grande treasure from the past. Adieu, farewell, your songs played stay in our hearts.
The sea, the sea, calling out to you and me
Waves rush in to caress the sand
Only to roll out again
          The sea, the sea, calmness in its water
But in one fowl swoop
The clam has tourned sour… 

by Lillian B. Rose

Photo of the day: MUSIC MAKES ME HIGH

Mason and Hamlin piano in East River under Brooklyn Bridge

Mason and Hamlin piano in East River under Brooklyn Bridge

Photo of the day: MUSIC MAKES ME HIGH – ♫♪♪♪♫♫ The ethereal effect of music is to make one feel is if you are floating on air. Listen closely to sounds of the sea or Mozart, are you floating yet?

The destruction of New York’s Pier 17 & our seafaring history

south street header

South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 as you see it has been torn down, one of the 100 year old German ships The Peking will be scapped – along with it…any atmosphere that bespeaks the sea. The old buildings are boarded up and ruined from hurricane Sandy and no one has the money to repair them. What will replace it? A shiney big glass box and super high rise. It is an utter destruction and wipe out of New York City’s grand seafaring history.


Photo of the day: EBB TIDE CONCERTO, piano mystriously appears in East River under Brooklyn Bridge

EBB TIDE CONCERTO

Photo of the day: EBB TIDE CONCERTO – The most talked about piano in New York is not Billy Joel’s, Liberace’s or Elton John’s – it’s the old Mason and Hamlin piano that mysteriously appeared on the East River shore of the Brooklyn Bridge sometime last week. At high tide the piano is almost completely submerged, at low tide it has become quite a tourist and photographer’s attraction. Who knew something so simple, old and decrepit could cause so much fun?!
Mason & Hamlin was founded by Henry Mason who was a direct descendent of the pilgrims of the Mayflower – so it is somewhat cyclical that this piano winds up in the Atlantic Ocean. There are three main theories as to how this heavy  baby grand piano landed in the river: 1) It was used for a photo shoot and was just too heavy and old to remove afterwards. 2) It was a garbage dump since some locals claim they say it tossed on it’s side just by the river walkway’s gate. 3) My friend Marie Flageul has the best theory as to it’s origin. She is convinced it is the piano from the Sequoia Restaurant that was part of South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 that is now disgracefully and disrespectfully being torn down. It could not have been snatched from the dumpsters since they are all guarded behind closed gates, so . . . was it construction workers in a humorous mood?
We will never know. Both the Sanitation Department, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Parks Department all claim it is not their jurisdiction. The curiosity now remains how long it will take for the Atlantic ocean to claim it’s serenade to sea.
In the meantime, enjoy the strains of Frank Chacksfield’s 1954 “Ebb Tide” ♫♪♪♪♫♫ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VATF93NMujk
“Ebb Tide”
First the tide rushes in
Plants a kiss on the shore
Then rolls out to sea
And the sea is very still once more
So I rush to your side
Like the oncoming tide
With one burning thought
Will your arms open wide
At last we’re face to face
And as we kiss through an embrace
I can tell, I can feel
You are love, you are real
Really mine
In the rain, in the dark, in the sun
Like the tide at its ebb
I’m at peace in the web
Of your arms

In 1854, two brilliant idealists, Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin, founded the Mason & Hamlin Company in Boston, Massachusetts, the birthplace of American piano design and manufacturing. Although their backgrounds and interests were very different, the two men shared a common goal: to make the world’s finest musical instruments.

Henry Mason was a member of one of America’s oldest families—they were actually descendents of pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower. The Masons were renowned for their involvement in the arts. Henry Mason was a pianist and his brother, William, was one of America’s foremost classical pianists and composers.

Their father was the famous composer and educator Lowell Mason, a visionary who was the first to bring music into the public schools of America. He was also known throughout the world as a composer and publisher of hymns, and is often called the “father of American church music.” Henry Mason shared his father’s lifelong dedication to music.

Emmons Hamlin was not a musician, but instead a brilliant mechanic and inventor. While working at the melodeon factory of George A. Price and Company of Buffalo, Hamlin invented a way to voice organ reeds, so that they could imitate the sound of a clarinet, violin or other musical instruments.

Hamlin developed his discovery to perfection, and in 1854, he and Henry Mason formed their company for the purpose of manufacturing a new musical instrument that they called the “organ harmonium.”


Postcard story from New York – “MEMORIAL DAY 1931, THIS IN MEMORY OF OUR FOLKS WHO HAVE GONE AHEAD”

MEMORIAL DAY 1931 collage

Postcard story from New York – “MEMORIAL DAY 1931 ~ THIS IN MEMORY OF OUR FOLKS WHO HAVE GONE AHEAD”

Endwell, New York, June 1, 1:00pm, 1931

Woolworth and Municipal Bldgs. from Brooklyn Bridge, New York.

To: Mrs. H. A. Knapp

Waverly

Pa.

“Memorial Day 1931 This in Memory of our Folks who have gone ahead. How sweet to think of them! The day’s Celebration here has been a trail of planes from the Endicott landing place. Sure “Love can never lose it’s own.” H.K.__”

The card is addressed to Mrs. Henry Alonzo Knapp, actual name Anna Dutilleul (b.1870, d.1954.)

Her husband Henry A. Knapp (b.1851, d. 1931 the year this card was written) started as a filing clerk in Pennsylvania and rose to become a prominent lawyer who, in 1899, established the borough of Vandling in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, Vandling has a population of 751.

The ‘Endicott landing-place’ refers to a landing strip that was to become the Tri-Cities Endicott Airport, established in 1936.

The poetic quote: “Love can never lose it’s own” is from a poem entitled “Snowbound/Firelight” by influential American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

“…Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,

(Since He who knows our need is just,)

That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.

Alas for him who never sees

The stars shine through his cypress-trees!

Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,

Nor looks to see the breaking day

Across the mournful marbles play!

Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,

The truth to flesh and sense unknown,

That Life is ever lord of Death,

And Love can never lose its own!”

To read the full fitting Memorial day poem “Snowbound” click: http://www.bartleby.com/248/222.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow-Bound

 


Photo of the day: MAY 14, 2014 THE WORLD TRADE CENTER MUSEUM FINALLY OPENS

First look

First look

Photo of the day: MAY 14, 2014 THE WORLD TRADE CENTER MUSEUM FINALLY OPENS


Photo of the day: CHER COMES TO BROOKLYN’S BARCLAYS CENTER TONIGHT!

My personalized advertising on the Barclays Oculus

My personalized advertising on the Barclays Oculus

Photo of the day: CHER COMES TO BROOKLYN’S BARCLAYS CENTER TONIGHT! – Six decades of hits, six decades of fashion, six decades of fantastic shows all culminate tonight in Cher’s “Dressed To Kill” tour here in New York. Cher the eighth wonder of the world, will perform with loveable ‘fun girl’ Cyndi Lauper at Brooklyn’s new modern wonder the Oculus, at the Barclays Center. I’ll be there with Janet Novick and my international Cher fan friends and we’ll be ‘dressed to kill’!
(I’ve done my own advertising on the Barclays oculus here with my photos personally taken of Cher and Cyndi.)