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

Posts tagged “Grand Central Terminal

Photo of the day: LOOSING NEW YORK


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.

Photo of the day: CAN YOU SPOT THE TOURIST?

On the #7 train, Grand Central Station stop.

On the #7 train, Grand Central Station stop.

Photo of the day: CAN YOU SPOT THE TOURIST?

Photo of the day: AS THE WORLD still TURNS with EILEEN FULTON

Neal Hetherington (Habitat for Humanity), Colleen Zenk, Eileen Fulton, Richard Skipper

Neal Hetherington (Habitat for Humanity), Colleen Zenk, Eileen Fulton, Richard Skipper

Photo of the day: AS THE WORLD still TURNS with EILEEN FULTON – Sometimes being a bitch pays off, just ask Eileen Fulton! – Before there was Erica Kane/Susan Lucci on All My Children, Amanda Woodward/Heather Locklear on Melrose Place, Abby Ewing/Donna Mills on Knotts Landing and certainly Alexis Carrington/Joan Collins on Dynasty – – there was Lisa Grimaldi/Eileen Fulton in 1960 on the classic TV soap opera “As The World Turns“. Being a bitch certainly offers job security, Eileen played the roll for fifty, yes fifty years!

Soap classic

Soap classic

On February 16, 2014 Sunday night, Richard Skipper: entertainer, charity fundraiser, Carol Channing’s champion and a well loved friend and historian of the entertainment community, hosted an evening’s conversation with soap opera legend Eileen Fulton at New York’s Metropolitan Room. One of many celebrity interviews in the ‘Richard Skipper Celebrates…’ series. A charity event with all proceeds going to president Jimmy Carter’s ‘Habitat for Humanity’ at the request of Eileen herself.

Host Richard Skipper

Host Richard Skipper

Richard’s warm and listening manner lets his guests free flow with the room and the audience loves it. Eileen’s zesty charm took over the room immediately. She looked absolutely stunning with her blonde curls tossed on top of her head, wearing black feathers and diamonds just as a soap opera queen should! So how do you get a job that lasts 50 years? You bang down doors. No…I mean that literally.

On a hot summer’s day in 1960, Eileen was treading the pavement going from agents office to agents office. After her bluff did not work at the William Morris agency that “I have an appointment with Mr. William Morris”, she went on to the next name on her list, William McCaffrey. When knocking on the door yielded no results, she knocked/pounded a little harder therefore knocking the door off it’s hinges (well…it WAS being repaired and so therefore loose). That accidental stunt landed Eileen her first agent. Shortly thereafter she  landed the role of Lisa Grimaldi ‘for just a few episodes’ on ATWT. Her Asheville, North Carolina sweetness connected with the viewers but not with Eileen. Eileen didn’t like being the ‘good girl’ Lisa Grimaldi – too boring. So she schemed to spice things up. When not allowed to change the plots or staging directions, she changed her character simply by using her voice. She said the same sweet dialog “but as I said it, I thought the nastiest dirtiest thoughts and the words just came out differently – with a whole new meaning. It was live television, what could they do?” she recounted to Richard with a sly grin. The rest is television history.

Eileen Fulton speaks her mind

Eileen Fulton speaks her mind

Eileen’s determination is also show business legend. At one point Eileen held down three acting rolls at once. ATWT soap filming live, then 3 matinees of “Whose Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” and then evening performances of “The Fantastiks”. She had a speed record of getting from the CBS Grand Central Broadcasting studio to the Billy Rose Theater (now the Nederlander) on West 41st street in five minutes. Talk about determination! It’s a feat of determination that Elaine Stritch still talks about in her act today. Why did she stop? “I was exhausted!”.

Die hard fan Kevin Campbell meets Colleen Zenk

Die hard fan Kevin Campbell meets Colleen Zenk

Over the decades CBS tried to replace Eileen’s character of Lisa with another actress,  but the viewers would not have it. “You can’t lie to the audience” Eileen passionately insists.  Lisa/Eileen’s audience was so wrapped up in the nastiness of the character, Eileen was slapped by a Chanel wearing patron at SAKS Fifth Avenue and she also had to hire body guards because people simply couldn’t separate real life from fiction as they would try to slug her in the street. Well, Eileen slugged herself all the way to the banks with 5 lp recordings and two autobiographies under her belt, night club acts, movie rolls as well as many murder mystery novels to her credit as well.

Soap aficionado  Peggy Eason and husband meet their idol

Soap aficionado Peggy Eason and husband meet their idol

Sunday night under Richard’s loving guidance, two passions in acting came to light. Eileen strongly feels you can’t fake emotions and don’t glorify violence against women even in jest. When a scene came up that her character was to be taken across her husband’s knee and spanked, she refused to play the scene insisting to her directors “that’s abuse whether you realize it or not.” Eileen got her way and kept a high standard on the show for a long time.

ATWT 2001 cast

ATWT 2001 cast

Any ironies in her life? Yes. As a child she was fascinated that ivory soap bars would float on the water in the tub, “just like a piece of wedding cake.” Being left alone in the tub one afternoon as a child, her mother returned to find little Eileen had bitten away the edges of the tasting looking soap bar as she ‘foamed from the mouth.’ “Isn’t it ironic that for fifty years I had Procter and Gamble/Ivory Soap as my sponsor?!” she laughed.

Any grudges or unhappy memories? Yes, one. Eileen is not a great fan of Carol Burnett. There’s a grudge there. Seems Eileen came up with the idea of the comedic take-off on Carol’s show “As the Stomach Turns” yet she was never once asked to appear. But when Carol did the comedic take-off of “Sunset Boulevard/Norma Desmond”, Gloria Swanson was asked to appear. “I think it was jealousy” Eileen still quickly insists.

"As The Stomach Turns"

“As The Stomach Turns”

Eileen has played through fifty years of history, fashion fads, political turmoils and every heinous plot you can think of on TV soaps but on September 17, 2010, the “World” no longer turned to the heartbreak of the legions of fans of “As The World Turns.” All the more reason this rare intimate night with this TV icon was such a treat thanks to Richard Skipper.

'As The World Turns' stars Colleen Zenk and Eileen Fulton with Richard Skipper

‘As The World Turns’ stars Colleen Zenk and Eileen Fulton with Richard Skipper

Richard doesn’t just “read the book” as some interviewers may do, he gets to really know his guests and hence the magic of the evening is born. Many of her fans and also former cast member Colleen Zenk who played Barbara Ryan from 1978 till 2010 where in the audience. When asked during the question and answer part of the show if she still recalled her full legal show name, Eileen shouted: “Of course! I was married eight times, divorced three times and widowed four times. I’m Lisa Miller Hughes Eldridge Shea Colman McColl Mitchell Grimaldi Chedwyn!” (Take that Alexis Carrington!)

I had the surreal pleasure of having dinner with Eileen! (Thats me seated right next to her.)

I had the surreal pleasure of having dinner with Eileen! (Thats me seated right next to her.)

Richard Skipper’s web site: http://www.richardskipper.com/index.html



Photo of the day: “GREY GARDENS” BIG AND LITTLE EDIE ARE BACK IN GRAND CENTRAL – One of the most riveting, entertaining and yet sadly disturbing documentaries in the last 50 years is the story of Little and Big Edie in “Grey Gardens”
Grey Gardens film scene

Grey Gardens film scene

Grey Gardens 1975 film program

Grey Gardens 1975 film program

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (1895–1977), known as “Big Edie”, and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (1917–2002), known as “Little Edie”, were the aunt and the first cousin, respectively, of former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The two women lived together at Grey Gardens for decades with limited funds in increasing squalor and isolation. The house was designed in 1897 by Joseph Greenleaf Thorpe and purchased in 1923 by “Big Edie” and her husband Phelan Beale. After Phelan left his wife, “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” lived there for more than 50 years. The house was called Grey Gardens because of the color of the dunes, the cement garden walls, and the sea mist

Little and Big Edie

Little and Big Edie

In the fall of 1971 and throughout 1972, their living conditions—their house was infested by fleas, inhabited by numerous cats and raccoons, deprived of running water, and filled with garbage and decay—were exposed as the result of an article in the National Enquirer and a cover story in New York Magazine after a series of inspections (which the Beales called “raids”) by the Suffolk County Health Department. With the Beale women facing eviction and the razing of their home, in the summer of 1972 Jacqueline Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill provided the necessary funds to stabilize and repair the dilapidated house so that it would meet village codes.

Grey Gardens  film scene

Grey Gardens film scene

Albert and David Maysles became interested in their story and received permission to film a documentary about the women, which was released in 1976 to wide critical acclaim. Their direct cinema technique left the women to tell their own stories. The film went on to become an award wining Broadway Musical staring Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson; and then award wining film with  Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange.

After Big Edie died in 1977, Little Edie was forced to put Grey Gardens on the market. Edie was distraught when she found that most of the prospective buyers wanted nothing more than to demolish the home and build a brand new one on the beachfront lot; never one to waiver, Little Edie refused to sell the home to anyone that did not promise to restore the mansion to its former glory. Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post, and his wife, the writer Sally Quinn, made that promise and bought Grey Gardens from Little Edie in 1979.

The home was fully restored, the gorgeous gardens were brought back to life, and a swimming pool was added. The home now hosts many parties and charity events yearly and has been featured in several architectural and home décor magazines. In the June 2003 issue of Town and Country, Sally Quinn says that her real estate agent initially tried to discourage her from buying the home; however, Little Edie was the ultimate salesman declaring, “All it needs is a coat of paint!”

So, it was to my great delight and surprise that perhaps “Big” and “Little Edie” aren’t really gone, they are just living in a grander home – Grand Central Terminal! I spotted the pair while rushing home and immediately was fascinated at the resemblance and fell in love with them.

The 'Edies' in discussion

The ‘Edies’ in discussion

Mother and daughter luggage

Mother and daughter luggage

Details/similarities to observe: They are homeless, the doubled Duane Reade bags are always a clue. They are enjoying some drinks people had left behind on other tables. Their luggage/belongings closely guarded nearby. Despite their homeless situation they are in good spirits and ‘impeccably’ dressed, oddly similar to the Beales. ‘Big Edie’ has the scarf over her head, matching all in black, the black nylons hide the swollen bandaged ankles, the diamond studded shoes make her feel pretty. ‘Little Edie’ matches mom in all black, with head band to match. Daughter dotes on mom looking lovingly into her over made face. Their desperate situation hasn’t robbed them of their grande style and their elegance, they are in their own world. I only wish that I had the time to sit nearby and overhear their conversation. I will look for them on my next visit to Grand Central ‘Gardens’…


The documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE7E4Flp8p4

The musical  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdh8EoYoAoM


Grey Gardens today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqwuSFj7wMg

Grey Gardens 2013 Manhattan Mini Storage's subway ad

Grey Gardens 2013 Manhattan Mini Storage’s subway ad

Photos of the day: ♫♪ ON THE 20th CENTURY LIMITED TRAIN ♫♪

20th CENTURY LIMITED collage

Photos of the day: ♫♪ ON THE 20th CENTURY LIMITED ♫♪ – The 20th Century Limited was an express passenger train operated by the New York Central Railroad from 1902 to 1967, during which time it would become known as a “National Institution” and the “Most Famous Train in the World”. In the year of its last run,The New York Times said that it “…was known to railroad buffs for 65 years as the world’s greatest train”. The train traveled between Grand Central Terminal in New York City and LaSalle Street Station in Chicago along the railroad’s famed “Water Level Route”.
From February 1978 to March 1979, “On The Twentieth Century” was a big, splashy art deco Broadway musical starring none other than Imogene Coca, John Cullum and Madeline Kahn. Imogene stopped the show as Letitia Primrose with her rousing song “Repent!”.
"On The Twentieth Century" 1978 Broadway cast lp

“On The Twentieth Century” 1978 Broadway cast lp

Last weekend May 11-12, 2013, the extravagant 20th Century Limited made a much sought after reappearance at the Centennial Grand Central Terminal Train Show. The crowds were twice what the police expected. It was a two to three hour wait to see the ‘Limited’ alone, but it was worth it! The New York police made the very unpopular decision to shut the show down early to handle the overflow crowds. I was literally the last person to make it in line to see the famed art deco train at 1:00pm. Phew! The upside of that was, since I was the last, the Grand Central volunteers were so happy to see I was the last one – I got a private tour! I was dizzy with euphoria as prying eyes outside were looking in wondering ‘who is that guy?!”.
In the stainless steel operational kitchen.

In the stainless steel operational kitchen.

To experience this treasure from the past all alone is incredible. The sleek art deco fluid designs, the wonderful mint green art deco colors, the big deco furniture, the sheer elegance of every detail is exquisite. It was sensory overload. These were the days when travel was a luxury and an exciting experience you got dressed in your best for. Ladies with hat boxes, men with top hats and ties, children with their nannies in tow. I saw the whole train. The private dining room, the main dining room, the art deco bar, the sitting room, the sleeping quarters for the crew, the luxurious suites, the deco bathrooms, the all stainless steel kitchen-still operational. The best feature of all is the elegant high style art deco observation car in the back, shaped like a bullet. Wandering through the train James Bond’s intrigue with the adjoining rooms in “From Russia With Love” came to mind. Marilyn Monroe in her upper sleeping berth of “Some Like It Hot”, the romantic and thrilling memories were everywhere. I was told the most oft asked question asked upon seeing the sleeping berths was “Where’s Marilyn?”. The train is privately owned and you can rent it for $14,000 a weekend to travel the scenic rails of America. Get 20 of your best friends together, dress in your vintage best and it’s worth it! ALL ABOARD !
The owner, way in the back of  'Star Trak Inc.', finally taking a rest in his domain.

The owner, way in the back of ‘Star Trak Inc.’, finally taking a rest in his domain.

YouTube documentary to the glamorous red carpet train: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjKHW8XkU9w



Photo of the day: GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL IS 100 YEARS AND 100 DAYS OLD TODAY – In the 1968 the city wanted to tear it down. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis stepped in and fought for it’s protection: 
“Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe… this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won’t all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes.”
Sadly enough, her statement is even more true today in the Mayor Bloomberg/Councilwoman Christine Quinn administration than it ever has been. One half million people a day wonder at the awe of this magnificent saved building. With the greed that is so prevalent in our city today, with buildings being torn down left and right in favor of monsterous soul-less glass boxes – how many buildings are we to loose?…
Visit Grant Central’s web site for their calendar of centennial events: http://www.grandcentralterminal.com/events
Marilyn Grand Central

Photo of the day: SHINE AND A SMOKE


SHINE AND A SMOKE: An age old part of the fabric our Manhattan’s streets is the show shine boy. Now that so many of us wear sneakers and sport shows, leather shoes aren’t quite as prevalent, but the shoe shine boy tradition lives on. You start with a makeshift box of your own and fill it will all the supplies you can barely afford, then you have to scout a street location with good traffic that isn’t already taken. This young boy chose the front of Trinity Church near Wall Street and was working hard while his customer enjoyed the scene with a leisurely smoke.
Perhaps he will make enough money to work his way up to owning a stand with the raised upholstered seat, those at Grand Central Terminal do quite well. The final step is to get you own shop with maybe 3 or 5 stands. It’s a age-old American success story. “Shine mister?”
SASEK Shoeshine  collage



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 !



NEW YORK AT YOUR FINGERTIPS: One of the great things about NYC at Christmastime are the wonderful Christmas Markets. Some of the biggest markets are located at Columbus Circle, Bryant Park and inside Grand Central Terminal. They try to focus on local and New York themed items. One of the most popular and interesting vendors at all of these locations is ‘Insiders1’, specializing in fine soft leather goods featuring iconic New York photographic images enhanced through a sophisticated art collage process by founder Sigal De-Mayo and then hand-printed on the finest leather to create a unique effect that is permanent and designed to age beautifully. Bags of all designs, wallets and all sorts of fun accessories. One of their most fabulous items that caught my eye are these New York graffiti gloves. (Think of it, if you give someone the finger, you will just merely be pointing the way!) Please come to these markets to shop and if you can’t visit us at this magic time of the year, then visit them on their web site http://insiders1.com/pages/about 



New York Transit Museum’s 11th Annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central


My sweet friend from Finland Nana Kautto and I were doing our own little tour of NYC and found this amazing train display. We were instantly turned into little children with our mouths agape and eyes huge with wonderment. This is so awesome! Funny thing is now…NYC has a mountain range with a ski chalet (well…a pass-through mountain is kinda required with a model train set).  Grand Central Terminal turns 100 in 2013 and they’re starting the party early with their 11th annual Holiday Train Show! In a brand new layout by Lionel Trains, model Metro-North and New York Central trains depart from a miniature Grand Central on their way North on a 34′ long, two-level “O” gauge layout. Vintage model trains from the Museum’s collection are on display joined by stunning New York Central railroad posters harkening back to the Terminal’s heyday as the nexus of long distance and commuter train travel. Presented by the New York Transit Museum.


New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store Grand Central Terminal, Shuttle Passage, next to Station Master’s Office Monday – Friday 8 am to 8 pm Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 6 pm Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day FREE ADMISSION Visit or shop online at www.mta.info/museum


WINGS OF MIGHT, WINGS OF FLIGHT, FLIGHTS OF FANCY: This unusual view of Grand Central Terminal offers three sets of wings. The wings of might belong to Mercury who is atop Grand Central Terminal (and on your Amex card). The wings of flight belong to this original cast iron eagle that used to adorn the original 1871 Grand Central Terminal and now stands guard over the Lexington Avenue entrance. The flights of fancy belong to the eagle gargoyles that encircle the top of the art deco masterpiece the Chrysler Building. Each Chrysler eagle is an exact replica of the eagle hood ornament of the 1929 Chrysler automobile. So wether it be wings of might or flight – to have wings can take you far. Legendary designer Coco Channel once said “If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”