Photo of the day: PHOTOGRAPHING THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING – Someone always has a different view.
(My 14 German Memorial Day guests.)
Photo of the day: THE AGONY OF DE FEET – Ssssssnow! Soggy feet. Snowy feet. Soaking feet. Sweaty in those rubber boots feet. Salty feet. Sore feet. Slushy feet. Shivery feet. Enough already!
Photo of the day: MEET 35 OF MY NEW FRIENDS FROM ALL OVER GERMANY – I spent 5 days showing them New York through my eyes. From picking them up at the airport and showing them Manhattan for the first time as we drove down Fifth Avenue, to my full up and downtown tours including, of course, a visit to the Empire State Building. Their last full day is spent shopping. I chose either uptown Macy*s or downtown SOHO. I felt like Santa – so many had their special requests: “Where can I find a wooden train?” “I need Levis jeans.” “Where is the Harley Davidson store?” “Does Tiffany carry charm bracelets?” Hansanta answered all thier wishes.
I went with the SOHO group and those who weren’t so eager to shop got a walking tour with me of the Brooklyn Bridge, the stock market on Wall Street, the Trade Center and St. Paul’s Church. Topped off by a subway ride back to SOHO. German’s on their first New Yawk subway ride is a hoot – like little kiddies in an amusement park!
Here we are on our last day, all big smiles on our way to the airport. The next group is just 4 days away….
FRÖHLICHE WEIHNACHTEN !
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Photo of the day: HANS CRUISES NEW YORK – I spent five days taking 35 Germans and one American on a total sightseeing tour of New York City! They saw the whole big apple from top (Harlem) to bottom (Battery Park/World Trade). The minuses: getting up at 4:30 am to travel from Queens so I can meet them at their hotel in Seacaucus, Jersey at 8:00am. Dropping them off in Jersey at night and that long, long cold mass transit bus ride back. The pluses: The wonderment in their eyes seeing Times Square for the first time. Taking the famed Circle Line Manhattan boat cruise at sunset. Their eagerness to walk along Fifth Avenue decorated for the holidays. The giddy Empire State building visit. The look in their eyes the next morning after they visited the places I had recommended. The hugs and German home made cookie I got at the airport as they sadly said goodbye…makes all worth while 🙂
Can you tell it was cold?
Mondays on Memory Lane: HURRICANE SANDY LIVE VIDEO – It was 4pm, October 29, 2012, and I was determined to witness hurricane Sandy from the water’s edge on the East River. I was the only one on the streets, soaked to the bone.
This photo was taken from Long Island City, Queens. I braced myself against a cement bench to prevent myself from blowing away. United Nations, Trump Tower, Empire & Chrysler building in skyline.
See my YouTube video below:
Mondays on Memory Lane: STOUFFERS ‘TOP OF THE SIX’S’ RESTAURANT – As a child, “Top of The Six’s” meant a special occasion. You had done well in school or it was prom night or you were in love and wanted to impress with the sweeping view of the Empire State Building. The rooftop restaurant was located at the epicenter of the posh section of Fifth Avenue, between 52nd/53rd Streets, with a lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi and easy subway access downstairs. Today it is but a postcard memory.
Lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi
It all started in 1922 the Stouffer family opened a lunch counter on East Ninth St. in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. They sold sandwiches, dairy products and Lena Stouffer’s soon-to-be-famous deep-dish Dutch apple pie. By 1935 they expanded to six restaurants in the Cleveland area and in 1937 they opened the first Stouffer restaurant in New York City.
In 1946 Stouffer’s opened on Shaker Square and at the Westgate shopping center in the Cleveland suburbs. It was at the Shaker Square location that patrons began requesting takeout orders of items on the menu and the Stouffer foray in to frozen food began by 1954. By this time Stouffer’s had restaurants in Florida, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Detroit.
1958 – Opens restaurants at the stainless steel deco-like #666 Tishman Building (built 1957) located at 666 5th Avenue in New York City one on the 1st & below-street levels, the other on the 39th floor, at the time the highest public restaurant in N.Y. They went there, by the millions. In July 1973, about 15 years after it opened, the restaurant announced that it was about to serve its 10 millionth meal. Ominously, a review that month found the cuisine anything but haute.
They continued to expand, building a frozen food processing plant in Solon, Ohio in 1968 and they ventured into specialty casual dining eateries with names like Rusty Scupper, Cheese Cellar and the Grog Shop. In 1969 NASA chose Stouffer’s products for Apollo 11, 12 and 14 for astronauts to dine on.
But it was the Stouffer’s “Top of the…” restaurants that became the special occasion places to go. “Top of The Hub” in Boston, “Top of the Rock” in downtown Chicago, “Top of the Sixes” in New York City, “Top of the Flame” in Detroit and “Top of the Town” in Cleveland.
The view was terrific from 40 stories up, especially in those days long before the World Trade Center, when a restaurant on top of a skyscraper was a novelty. Prices were reasonable. Children liked the view, and so did young couples on dates. Men proposed to their wives there,” it was a time when going to ”the city” meant journeying from Queens to Manhattan. You didn’t necessarily go there for the food, it was that wonderful atmosphere.
Tishman Building #666 Fifth Avenue
On September 18, 1996, The New York Times announced the closing of this beloved rooftop gem. The new tenant would be the Grand Havana Room, a cigar temple that will bear as much resemblance to a smoke-filled parlor as, say, the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel. Right now I’d give anything for a mid-west cooked Stouffer’s meal atop of the Six’s. The best I can do, is to go to my rooftop, spread a tablecloth and open my microwaved Stouffers dinner – it’s just not the same.
What are your memories of “Top of the Six’s”?
Photo of the day: SUNNYSIDE AUGUST SUNSET – photographed on my way home approx. 7:45pm. Empire State Building on the horizon.
Photo of the day: MEET 35 OF MY NEW FRIENDS FROM INDIA – Through my friendship with Ajay and Ankur Bansal of the India Unexplored travel agency in India, I get the sheer joy of showing stary-eyed students the city of their dreams. Since they come from all parts of India, the reaction to New York ranges widely from bewilderment, confusion, to the thrill of recognizing places from their movies and music videos.
The children in this group ranged from age 8 to 15, so therefore their reactions varied greatly. The group always is divided into the expected subsections. The cool pretty girls, the science geeks, the way too cool coming-of age guys dressed as ‘NYC’ as possible, the introverted, the shy and the terribly obdeient to parents and tradition. It amuses me greatly to watch this predictable age old tradition and dividing up carry on. Can you pick out who is who in this group photo?
On Sunday, July 7th we first visited the Statue of Liberty. The high rate of security overwhelmed them a bit at first. To watch their eyes grow wider and wider as the boat drew closer was endearing. Some children just grow very quiet and look studiously up at her. Here she was! The statue they had seen in every movie, “Did you see ‘I Am Legend’?! That movie was cool!” I always point out to them that the statue is not standing still as it first appears, that she is breaking the chains of oppression at her feet and is moving forward towards freedom, “Oooooh!” I always ask – do you know what the 7 points in her crown represent? “The 7 continents” is the most frequent answer as opposed to the correct answer, the 7 seas. I then ask them to take 2 American pennies out of their wallet to show them just how thin her copper skin is, there is always amazement at that. Despite the oppressive heat wave we took the time to make sure everyone got that one special photo with Miss Liberty – you know, you get on your knees and photograph upwards so that friends and Miss Liberty are all in one shot. Then it’s the race for the gift shop. “I wanted more Liberty Statues” one adorable girl exclaimed. I assured her, once we got to Timers Square, there would be dozens including many live ones for her to choose from!
Next it was on to the 9/11 memorial. More stringent security. Since half the group was of such a young age, I had to explain the whole tragedy to them and the importance of the site. Many had thought the waterfalls would be above ground “you know, like Niagara Falls.” I told them to look up and imagine 110 floors of people working at their desks possibly about to loose their lives. Silence and bewilderment came over their faces. ‘But why?’ their faces seemed to say. How do you explain terrorism to an 8 year old? I tried in the gentlest manner possible, trying to explain “hate”. Many also sought to touch the ‘survivor pear tree’ and felt it was a true miracle.
Since they wanted an American lunch, where else but – McDonalds on Broadway with the live piano player, this was very exciting to them. They were like kids in a candy store. Very happy and very placated. We then walked around the City Hall area and waited for our bus to take us to the Empire State Building. What was incredible to them was that it was built in just 13 months. “That can’t be sir? It is not possible to construct such a thing in so short a time.”
Out of respect, I am called “sir” – it is endearing, an old age culture of respect and a bit surreal. Some dared to call me “Sir Hans” but that was tried by only 1 or 2 of the older boys. Imagine this soft little voice calling you “sir”, it warms you heart to the fullest.
The Empire State Building was the third time they were subjected to the heavy ‘welcome to New York security’, this is how our lives have changed. Security guards took away a golf ball from a little boy. I was furious and in disbelief. I had an umbrella which I could have dropped down as a missile, but this little boy’s NYC golf ball he had bought for his dad was confiscated?!? (I bought him another one at twice the price, but I was NOT going have this
be his memory of the Empire State Building!) Once we got to the top, having come from the other side of the globe, I was asked if that land mass to the west was Canada – I had to explain, no…”it’s Jersey”.
Our final stop was the much requested Times Square. The ooohs and ahhhs were abundant. Each older student was required to hold the hand of a younger student. I lead the group holding up an American flag they could follow, we were quite a parade. “Sir! This is where we should have spent the whole day!” Most of them just wanted to shop, try on Nike sneakers and buy as many I ♥ NY t-shirts as possible, and oh yes, and buy many little mini Liberty statues.
Here is where our culture differs greatly from India’s. We made our meeting point by the red glass TKTS stairs. As we waited I looked in their bags and would ask them “so – what did you buy?” Many of them responded that they had not bought nothing for themselves, but something for their sister, father, brother or mother. It was truly humbling. One little girl was so proud that she had bought a red, white and blue teddy bear with big eyes for her little sister, “I know she will like this very, very much.” I couldn’t have loved them more in that moment. Now it was time to head back to their hotel in Long Island City and continue their NYC adventure Monday . . .
FAVORITE QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Is King Kong really real? Where does he live now?” asked 8 year old Kavish Singh with thoughtful wide eyes and wonderment. I had to bite my tongue from laughing and remember I believed in Santa Claus till 5th grade, so it was with a smile I tried to explain that it had been an animated doll – he seemed disappointed.
View of Manhattan from Liberty Island, July 4, 2013
Photo of the day: ABC’s the VIEW – A.stonishing B.ig C.ity View
Come to New York, it’s bigger than life!
Bigger than a 3D movie!
Bigger than your imagination!
Photo of the day: ANOTHER TROPICAL NIGHT IN NEW YORK CITY –
The tropical breezes blow
The palm trees sway to and fro
As the piña coladas flow
The city seems to glow.
For a luxurious tropical night in Manhattan visit 230 Fifth Avenue’s rooftop cocktail lounge. All sorts of palms trees and lush fauna in giant white wooden planters let you forget you are in The Big Apple, but take a look at the skyline view – and you see the best view of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, The Empire State Building and it’s surrounding skyscrapers. Sip your Mai tai as you watch the magic of Manhattan’s sunsets turn the skyline from blue to orange to red to irridescent blue as the light come on the skyline starts to glow! 230 FIFTH is the largest outdoor rooftop garden in New York City.
230 FIFTH has two floors, an outdoor rooftop as well as a fully enclosed (Penthouse Lounge) and private event rooms underneath, both with breathtaking views of the NYC skyline. Their Rooftop Garden also has very large, oversize umbrellas for rainy days, or for very hot sunny days, they partially heat the rooftop in cooler months. 230 Fifth is a lounge that also offers a full food menu. Open every day, 365 days of the year to the general public from 4:00PM – 4:00AM. Saturday and Sunday Brunch from 10am-4pm.
Location: 230 FIFTH AVE corner 27th street on 5th Ave. 212-725-4300
Photo taken from completed World Trade Center #7
THE WOOLWORTH TOWER “IT ALL ADDS UP” – 100 YEARS OLD TODAY: On October 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm, ‘Open House New York’ gave me the rare privilege of going to the top of the newly finished World Trade Center #7. The floor had not yet been occupied and afforded me the breath taking views of the Woolworth Tower soon to be only the views seen by office workers in the building. It was a thrilling bittersweet experience.
On April 24, 1913 Frank W. Woolworth completed what was then the tallest building in the world, 57 stories tall, on lower Broadway between Park Place and Barclay Street, opposite City Hall. He called it his ‘cathedral of commerce’. Decorated with the finest craftsmanship, artwork, gold leaf and mocking gargoyles. The exterior decoration was cast in limestone-colored glazed architectural terra-cotta panels.
The completed height 792 feet (241 m). A breath-taking observation deck on the 57th floor was open to the public. It remained the tallest building in the world till the Chrysler Building was built in 1930, then only to be surpassed by the Empire State Building.
The most wonderful part of the story is he paid the full price of the building upon completion $13.5 million dollars …in cash. . . in nickels and dimes! Mr. Woolworth was noted for saying “it all adds up!”. So the next time your mother tells you to ‘save your nickels and dimes’ – listen to her! In my office at home I have a framed 1913 advertising brochure of Frank W. Woolworth who created one of the greatest financial empires in the world through his successful idea of ‘five and dime’ stores (our .99 cent stores of today.) I keep his brochure on my wall to remind me, it does all add up!
Tragically the building today has fallen victim to the cancer that is NYU university, which has taken over the building and will let no none NYU persons into the building, not even to peek a the lobby (there are nasty bully guards at the door) and rare tours are only for the very few and high paying. Or – you could pay the average $65,000 a year price tag tuition to attend NYU and tour the building whenever you wish. It is disgusting that this tower based on the nickels and dimes of the working class has succumbed to the über elite.
They have stolen our city treasure. It is the aftermath of the greedy era of mayor Michael Bloomberg and an even more dangerous villain councilwoman Christine Quinn. After NYU’s grab of the building, on July 31, 2012 an investment group led by Alchemy Properties bought the top thirty floors of the building. The tower will be turned in to 40 luxury apartments with a five level penthouse on top. Many people are looking for apartments in that area. The investment group says that the building historic status down town “has the catch to give it an edge over its competitors. “The luxury apartments will began at three hundred fifty feet from the ground level. Each apartment will have a view of lower and midtown Manhattan. The apartments will have ceiling heights that are about eleven to fourteen feet tall. A fifty five foot long pool in the basement will be restored for the use of the people who live there. The apartment is set to sell at seven and a half million dollars for about two thousand five hundred square feet. Over the entire project will cost one hundred fifty million dollars to build the apartments and plus the sixty eight million dollars used to purchase the space. . . a far cry from the days of nickels and dimes, those days are far gone.
MEET 59 OF MY NEWEST FRIENDS FROM INDIA! – Three years ago my friend Ajay Bansal took one of my NYC tours while I was working for a horrible private touring company which wasn’t very “receptive” to their guests. Ajay left that company and came to me privately to lead his student tours through New York and it has been a joyful relationship ever since. This spring 2013 tour was comprised of 52 gifted students (all boys) and 7 chaperones. Their eyes were filled with wonderment and eager with anticipation, hanging on my every word. As with most children abroad, their only concept of America and New York is through movies, videos and commercials.
Their naïveté is adorable – upon seeing the Empire State building the youngest ones asked “Ooooh, is that the World Trade Center?” “Where is the Liberty Statue?!” “Can you see movie stars on the street?” “Have you met the president?” “Do you live in a penthouse?” I simply fell in love with all of them. The age range was from 13 to 18, so the group ranged from total innocence to hip hop wanna-bees. But one thing they all have in common is a stringent politeness. It took me a whole day to stop them from calling me “sir’ and we finally settled on “Mr. Hans”.
It was a full three day schedule including: the Empire State Building, bus tours, a harbor cruise to see Miss Liberty, The 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street, South Street Seaport, the United Nations, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum (who knew they had a Bollywood exhibit?!), the Museum of Natural History (dinosaurs!) and of course M&M World in Times Square. It was a busy schedule. As we toured through the city several quotes come to mind:
“What are all those white boxes in the windows?” = air conditioners.
“The water coming from the sky is definitely making me wet.” = rain.
“Was King Kong really right here?” = no…that was a doll (the little boy seemed rather disappointed.).
“Is that Canada?” = no, it’s New Jersey.
“Will it snow today, please?” = no, it’s too warm.
“This food is most pleasing” = ‘delicious.’
We may laugh at some of these comments but they are terribly endearing. To have had the privilege to spend time with such innocent, polite and loving children made the tour such a joy. All the sights excited them, I think the big ‘hits’ were the Liberty Statue and the wax museum. They were fascinated that are streets are filled with such diversity “in our country – everyone looks the same.” But above all that, they had only one consuming desire and that is – to shop! (Head phones seemed to be atop most of their lists.) So Best Buy was their main goal.
Their next stop is on to Washington, D.C., and then on to Disney World. Not bad, huh? It was hard to say goodbye to them, but same time next year, I’ll have some little boy tug on my sleeve and say “Sir . . . how far is Best Buy from here…?” I look forward to that already.
THE ULTIMATE NEW YORK TREE: If you are rushing home for the holidays and find yourself in Grand Central Terminal needing a last minute gift? Rush over to their Christmas Market and find ‘HUT STUDIOS’. You can find every beloved and some quirky New York icons available for your tree. It’s the perfect last minute gift as you rush on your way to the folks back home! Are you just visiting NYC? – they are the quintessential unique souvenirs. Artists Richard Hopper and Harold Gilstein have photoshopped images of New York (the Pan Am Building, the Flatiron Building, the Roosevelt Island Tramway) decoupaged into 3-D ornaments ($30 to $45). You can also buy an Astor Place train station business card holder, a Grand Central Terminal box, or The Ansonia, The Dakota, Chrysler, Empire, the Chelsea Hotel, in storage box form.
It is your one chance to buy a piece of real estate at affordable prices! You can now truly say “I’ll take Manhattan” . . . and not go broke – Enjoy !
Taken from Long Island City, Queens. I braced myself against a cement bench to prevent myself from blowing away. United Nations, Trump Tower, Empire & Chrysler building in skyline.
See my YouTube video below:
I CAN SEE FOR MILE AND MILES: with my coin operated binoculars from atop the Empire State Building…just not Russia 🙂
PEPSI COLA HITS THE SPOT: After the rebirth of Pepsi by the Pepsi-Cola Corp. in 1934, Charles G. Guth (the new owner of the Pepsi trademark) built the then largest Pepsi bottling plant in the industrial neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens on the East River. The facility manufactured their own syrup from cane sugar and produced its own bottle caps.
In 1938, Pepsi commissioned the Artkraft Strauss Sign Corp. to build a sign to adorn the top of the Long Island City plant. The sign is 120 feet wide with it’s tallest letters over 44 feet tall. A 50 foot tall capped bottle of Pepsi sits to the right of the brand name.
The sign was refurbished in 1994 by the same company that constructed it in the 1930’s. The plant was in operation until 1998. The land was sold to the Rockrose Development Corp. and an agreement was made that the sign be preserved. Since then, the sign has found a permanent home on the Queens waterfront not far from the foundation of the old plant.
The sign can be seen clearly from Manhattan on the east side of the city and one of the attractions from atop The Empire State Building.
EMPIRE TWILIGHT: The Empire State building is one of the jewels of Manhattan. It can be seen from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey. At night if you look up and stare at the building for a few minutes, you will see all these little white flashes of light going off – those are the tourist’s cameras, it’s a funny and wonderful sight. In the daytime tourists try to find spots on Fifth Avenue to get just the right angle. At night tour guides will take their guests to special spots to view this 1931 art deco marvel. But every once in a while, as you busily scurry through a neighborhood to and from an appointment, like here on West 28th Street, you get a wonderful surprise from one of the scarce empty lots we have left in Manhattan. Look up and marvel!