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

Posts tagged “New York


MEMORIAL DAY 1931 collage


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

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

To: Mrs. H. A. Knapp



“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



Postcard story from New York: “WHEN I WAS A BOATSMAN”

BOATSMAN collage

Postcard story from New York – “WHEN I WAS A BOATSMAN”

Brookhaven, New York, January 20, 12pm, 1907

To: Hr. C. Schmer

Thisted, Denmark

“When I was a boatsman”

Yours Bernard


The romance and intrigue of this card is wonderful! Who was this handsome Bernard with his piercing and determined eyes? Danish? A whaler? A shipmen? A boat dealer or repairman?  A fisherman? It was obviously something he came to America  to do since it was his heritage’s trade.

Thisted, Denmark to this day remains a tiny architecturally untouched town with no more than 13,067 inhabitants. Founded in the year 1500, Thisted is on an inlet on the North Sea and has Denmark’s leading fisheries port in Hanstholm. Notice: all you had to address the card to was “Schmer, Thisted, Denmark” – – and it got there?!?!?!…it was a smaller world in 1907.

Brookhaven is located on Long Island, New York. It was settled between 1640 and 1655, ousting the Indians. Cattle ranching was it’s first industry and then by 1900 whaling was their big income. So was Bernard ’the old man and the sea’ hunting whales? So it seems Bernard sailed to Long Island, New York to seek his fortune across the Atlantic in Brookhaven and seemingly (hopefully) happily retired there since his card fondly reads “When I was…”

A poem to the sea
I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.
~John Masefield 1878-1967

Photo of the day: MEET MAYOR BILL DeBLASIO !


Photo of the day: MEET THE MAYOR! – The mayor’s office finally released the official photos the lucky few of us had taken with him inside Gracie Mansion on January 5th this year. This Federal Style mansion was built in 1799 as a private home and since 1942 was used as the official residence of all of New York’s mayors. The symbolism being allowed back inside was huge since the mayor’s residence had been closed off to the public for the past 20 years. Mayor Giuliani wasn’t allowed to live there since he wasn’t married (yes you read that right.) Elitist Bloomberg refused to lower himself to live in the ‘people’s house’ choosing his luxe double town home instead. Finally on  this day, Gracie Mansion belonged to the people of New York again. I was one of the few 5,000 lucky ticket holders who gladly waited in line for the rare opportunity – see my post of January 6, 2014. Whether you like Bill DeBlasio or not (he’s already in some hot messes), it was still pretty damn cool to be inside this restored historic house and to be able to put my arms around New York’s mayor and say “thank you”.

Postcard stories from New York: HOTEL NEW YORKER 1943

Hotel New Yorker 1943

Hotel New Yorker 1943

Today launches a new series called “Postcard Stories from New York”. Each week I will feature a vintage postcard sent to a loved one from the Big Apple New York City. Let’s see what thread they will weave over time. Here is the premier card:

Postcard of the Week – HOTEL NEW YORKER 1943
Description:  Hotel New Yorker, 34th Street at 8th Avenue. Private tunnel to Pennsylvania Station. 2,500 rooms, each with a radio, both tub
and shower, servidor and circulating ice water. Four popular priced restaurants.
Dancing nightly in the Terrace Restaurant. Rates from $3.85 a day.
To: Miss Marion J. Peters
1708 N. Harvard St.
Arlington, VA


The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, 135 W. 31st Street,  New York, NY 10001. 212-736-8500

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, 135 W. 31st Street, New York, NY 10001. 212-736-8500

Photo of the day: A PRIVATE CONVERSATION WITH SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI – I was passing by  the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street when I came across this man who found solace in the early morning court yard of the church. He kept looking up at the cross of the church and was having a casual conversation with Saint Francis. It’s good to know people in high places  🙂 .
The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
built 1892 feeding the poor ever since, renovated 1961
135 W. 31st Street
New York, NY 10001


rockettes radio city

Photo of the day: WHAT HAS 72 LEGS AND MOVES WITH PRECISION? – The New York Radio City Music Hall Rockettes ! !
The Christmas Spectacular is the single most popular show in New York at Christmastime. 5,931 seats available for each show!! Five shows a day!
There are two sets each of 36 dancers in each New York show. There are 80 Rockettes (4 understudies), and they split the casts into 40 and 40. On the days with five shows, one cast will do two shows, the other will do three. On six-show days they divide it by three and three. So they can get a break, during the week they give each other a day off. The most they would do is four shows in a day.
A little known fact, if you are from Missouri (ironically the “show me” state) – you can be proud! The group was founded in St. Louis, Missouri by Russell Markert in 1925, originally performing as the “Missouri Rockets.” Markert had been inspired by the John Tiller Girls in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922, and was convinced that “If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have longer legs and could do really complicated tap routines and eye-high kicks… they’d knock your socks off!” The group was brought to New York City by Samuel Roxy Rothafel to perform at his Roxy Theater and renamed the “Roxyettes.” When Rothafel left the Roxy Theatre to open Radio City Music Hall, the dance troupe followed and later became known as the Rockettes. The group performed as part of opening night at Radio City Music Hall on December 27, 1932. In 1936, the troupe won the grand prize at the “Paris Exposition de Dance”…the rest – is history !


Photo of the day: REASSURING THE SHORE – I am taking my German tourist guests on my 5 hour long tour of Brooklyn today, via Harlem Spirituals Tours. From the Fulton Ferry landing at the Brooklyn Bridge allllllll the way to Coney Island for a Nathan’s hot dog lunch – wunderbar! Our last and final stop will be the 5 Pointz Graffiti museum as a surprise ending 🙂
At Coney Island for the past few weeks we have been met by this long pipe snaking along the beach. Early in September the $7.2 million Army Corps of Engineer’s project to pump 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island’s shore began. Although the beach closed for the summer after Labor Day and red flags indicated no lifeguards were on duty, there were a few sunbathers and swimmers adjacent to the area where the work is getting underway.
While restoration work is going on, there were rolling closures of roughly 1,000 foot wide sections of the beach where construction work is active, according to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE). The beach nourishment project extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach, and is expected to be completed in the fall.
Coney Island was hit hard by Super-storm Sandy and soon, its beaches will be well on their way to being protected against future flooding. There’s a ship out on the horizon pumping the sand from the ocean’s floor (and surprising a few startled crabs I bet) and pumping it methodically onto the beach where it is sifted and raked. You can hear the rumbling of the stones and shells as they go whizzing by inside the large rusty pipes lining the beach. Soon we will be enjoying pristine sand to stick our toes into! Join us?!



Photo of the day: DESPITE THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN, THE FIGHT FOR LIBERTY CONTINUES BY MURALIST VERONIQUE BARRILLOT – Today the despicable Republicans have shut down the government. Tourists here in New York that have traveled half way around the world to go to Liberty Island are literally left out in the cold. The most upset are those who have crown visit tickets, those tickets have been ordered two to three months in advance and you arrive in New York = closed.
One of the places you can see Miss Liberty still fighting for her freedom is at the Graffiti Museum 5 Pointz on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, right next to the 7 train Court Street Station. World famous 5 Pointz, as so many other treasures in New York, thanks to the greedy cancer that is the Bloomberg administration, is in great danger of being torn down in favor of twin mirror glass apartments.
5 Pointz, Jackson Avenue at Crane Street and Davis Street, the whole block, Long Island City, NY 11101, #7 train Court Street stop.

5 Pointz, Jackson Avenue at Crane Street and Davis Street, the whole block, Long Island City, NY 11101, #7 train Court Street stop.

To make her (perhaps final) statement, French muralist Veronique Barrillot has been given permission to paint a giant mural directly on the Jackson Avenue side for all to see. It is the Statue of Liberty, grimacing as she holds a paint pallet and paint brushes. Veronique is finishing the mural today, so I will not reveal  the full image of it yet.  Veronique states: “The homage I would like to pay to 5 Pointz is that of our common heritage and of our faith in the future and in liberty.” As of this moment’s government shut down, that immediate ‘future’ looks grim. The longest government shut down was also the most recent, from Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996. That’s 21 days. No Grand Canyon, no Yellowstone, no national zoos, no landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument – no Statue of Liberty.
Paint on Veronique, paint on ! Vive l’art!
VERONIQUE’S AWESOME VIDEO ‘PORTFOLIO’! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPFiydrnAYg
VERONIQUE BARRILOT’S WEB SITE: http://www.fresquesmurales.fr/
5 POINTZ WEB SITE: http://5ptz.com/