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

Posts tagged “Sunnyside Gardens



Photo of the day: MORNING REQUIREMENTS: STALE TOAST AND TWO PEANUTS – This is Oscar my ‘pet’ squirrel who comes by every morning to have his breakfast served by me. Every morning he has 2 unsalted peanuts and 1 pecan waiting for him on my third floor windowsill, but nothing gets him going more than a good old fashioned piece of stale toast! (But no coffee, it’ gets him too wired.)


twas night before

Photos of the weekend: WHITEWASH – Jeffrey Leder Gallery, 2137 45th Road a few steps away from the #7 train Court Street Station, April 5, 6-9pm. All my friends are invited to celebrate! http://www.timeout.com/newyork/art/5-pointz-is-backon-gallery-walls-at-least?fb_action_ids=4088797314782&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.Uz620EaI39U.like&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582 — at Jeffrey Leder Gallery.

Photo of the day: 15,000 HITS ON MY PHOTOGRAPHY WEB SITE – THANK YOU !


Photo of the day: 15,000 HITS ON MY WEB SITE – THANK YOU ! – This weekend I reached another milestone.
My http://hansvonrittern.com/ photography web site reached 15,000 views and climbing!  I am updating it daily in preparation of a really big announcement coming soon!




Photo of the day: NO SMOKE MARIJUANA HERE – Since this sign went up in the staircase of mom’s apartment building, she’s just going to have to find another place to light up . . .



Photo of the day: HAPPY 88th BIRTHDAY URSULA VON RITTERN – This is almost a scene from “The Sound of Music”, the photo was taken about the same time the famous von Trapp family was roaming in those hills as well singing their hearts out. This photo was taken approximately in 1938, mom is about 12 or 13 years old here wearing her traditional German dirndl dress. With not a care in the world picnicking in the mountains not knowing what horrors she was about to experience in Germany. Her teen years were spent in World War II, the stories are gruesome yet fascinating. We are in the process of writing our family history and her life story now. Ursula finally immigrated to the United States in 1952, I arrived three years later in 1955, and so the story continues. Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag and Happy Birthday mom!



Photo of the day: EVERYBODY WAS HOME SATURDAY NIGHT – Living in New York City many of us have an Alfred Hitchcock-like “Rear Window” view. Mine happens to be out the front of the building onto 46th Street, one of the nicer streets in Sunnyside and Sunnyside Gardens.

A few weeks ago New York City was visited by a chilling Arctic Vortex, but lately it had warmed back up to 50F (10C) degrees and I was keeping my window open a bit nights. But last night the cold temperatures came back and I went to my window at 8:00pm to close it for the night. As I looked out my window, I noticed a warmer glow than usual coming from my street. There was more than just the warm glow of the street light, but also the entire building across the street seemed to glow like a miniature toy model. It was then that I noticed that something very unusual was occurring in the apartment building across the street – every single apartment, on all six floors, every window had lights on, everybody was home! That rarely ever occurs! This is New York, someone is usually out on an all night job, at a party, with a date, shopping, vacationing or what not. But on January 18th at 8:00pm, on one of those cold January nights…all these diverse neighbors at 41-29 46th Street had all decided to be snug as a bug and snuggle up to their big flat screen TVs, computers, cat, dog or loved one. As diverse as they are, for this night they were “one”.

(And no, I didn’t get out my Jimmy Stewart binoculars to look in the windows, I just enjoyed the warm glow of the city life.)

Photo of the day: CHOOSING MEAT (my first 2010 photo)

September 26, 2010.

September 26, 2010.

Photo of the day: CHOOSING MEAT – This was my first ‘photo of the day’ (called ‘Unique New York’ then), posted on Facebook on September 26, 2010. She was dressed just right in her Perdue yellow outfit as she went scrutinizing the yellow Perdue chicken department at the now defunct Sunnyside supermarket. In a way, she was what started it all. I had just gotten a new Nikon camera and felt like I could capture the world. It was so easy – open your eyes and…click 🙂


"Where's the eau de dogue?"

“Where’s the eau de dogue?”

Photo of the day: “SERIOUSLY? YOU EXPECT ME TO PEE IN THIS COLD?” – “Besides, I can’t smell a thing!” Noel my sheepdog/terrier  mix dog has been none to happy about our walkies for the last few days. First the blizzard and the bitter cold, then the burning salt on her paws and she’s still frustrated that she can’t quite get her eau de dougue scents as she usually does.  ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow’, the temps are going up to 40°F (4.45°C) – let’s hope for Noel’s sake, because there’s nothing like sniffing a good fire hydrant!  🙂

Photo of the day: BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

#7 train, 46th Street, Sunnyside

#7 train, 46th Street, Sunnyside

Photo of the day: BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE – It is 15°F (-9.5°C) here in New York City and last night winds were howling as we received 10″ inches (.25 meters) of snow for our first blizzard of 2014. But the commuters aboard the local #7 train at the 46th Street station in Queens were oblivious to the frigid conditions outside as they concentrated on their books and iPhones on their way home.


Von Rittern traditional German candle lit Christmas tree

Von Rittern traditional German candle lit Christmas tree

MY OLD FASHIONED GERMAN CHRISTMAS TREE 2013: Yes – those are real candles. We celebrate with no flashing lights or loud music, our ‘church’ is the tree. The tree is decorated with ornaments dating back several generations, about ninety years. Modern ones are included of course, that way the tree is a living story of the family’s history. The favorite ornaments are hung so that they will catch the candlelight and the whole tree tells a story of the family’s history. Mementos from trips abroad, favorite childhood ornaments, all that tell our likes, hobbies and loves.  Tin foil wrapped  chocolates and marzipan fill the tree as well. We usually get the biggest tree that will fit in the apartment (we once had a 14 foot tall tree) but now that mom is downsizing, we get a smaller tree and it is placed on a turn of the century old wooden steamer trunk that was used when my great aunt came to visit us in the New York and it is used as a table base to place the tree upon.
Depending on the size of the tree, anywhere from two to four dozen candles are placed in strategic spots in the tree. Each candle illuminates the special ornaments nearby. The candleholders are metal clip-ons in the shape of a pine cone. You can still buy the candles and holders at Schaller and Weber’s, a surviving German delicatessen just off 86th Street on Second Avenue in what was once an entire German neighborhood.
December 24 Christmas eve, we have our traditional Christmas goose dinner with  roasted apples (this year we had duck), home made dumplings, white asparagus, red cabbage, string beans with topping and lots of gravy.
Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner

After dinner, the elder of the family lights the candles in the room and on the Christmas tree and puts the ‘Christmas record’ on the phonograph. The record is of German church bells and church choirs singing. When all is ready, a golden bell is rung and the rest of the family comes into the glow of the room. We stand quietly side by side, arm in am or holding hands and quietly listen to the beautiful music we have listened to for decades before. That is ‘church’ to us. As the first side of the record ends, we play the other side, sit down and just quietly gaze into the serene candlelight, watching the ornaments glisten. No electric lights are on in the room, just the glow of candlelight, just as it is in Germany, France, and all of Scandinavia. Let your imagination go back to the late 1800′s enjoying a room just simply lit by candlelight.
The second side of the record ends with a jolly children’s song “Der Weihnachtsman ist da!/Santa Claus is here!”, signifying it is time to open presents by the amber glow. We grab some of the marzipan, gingerbread and chocolates that are on the dining table for all to enjoy as we open our treasures. At midnight a bottle of champagne is opened to ring in Christmas day and we all have a helping of mom’s strong rum pot preserves! 
Rum pot preserves with vanilla ice cream

Rum pot preserves with vanilla ice cream

At one time it was my whole family enjoying this tradition, now it is just my mother and me left to carry on, and one day it will just be me, but I will always do it, perhaps with a heavy heart. But this is Christmas, a German Christmas, my heritage. My great grandmother’s, grandparent’s, mother’s and my heritage. Fröhliche Weihnachten!



Photo of the day: BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS – Believe in flying reindeer, believe in wishes coming true, believe that a sleigh can fly, believe that there is a wondrous place at the North Pole (not a factory in China), believe that Santa can deliver toys to all the boys and girls in one magical night, believe that he knows if you’ve been good or bad, believe that all things are possible, believe in love, believe in miracles and above all, believe in yourself.
Foto des Tages: GLAUBEN SIE AN DIE MAGIE VON WEIHNACHTEN – Glauben an fliegende Renntiere, glauben an sich erfüllende Wünsche, glauben, dass ein Schlitten fliegen kann, glauben, dass es einen erstaunlichen Platz am Nordpol (nicht eine Fabrik in China) gibt, glauben, dass der Weihnachtsman Spielsachen an alle Jungen und Mädchen in einer magischer Nacht liefern kann, glauben, dass er weiß ob Sie artig oder bös gewesen sind, glauben Sie, dass alle Dinge möglich sind, glauben an der Liebe, an Wunder und vor allem glauben, an sich selbst glauben. FRÖHLICHES WEIHNACHTEN ALLE!



THANK YOU ! – for the over 200+ (I lost count) international happy birthday wishes on Facebook and here on my blog! I am truly overwhelmed 🙂
I tried answering many of you but couldn’t personally answer all, it was just a matter of time and logistics. So – I’ve put up this road sign to say THANK YOU and VIELEN DANK to all of my international friends. You have made me feel so special. (Mom says: “Over 175?! You got that many cards?” “No mom, they’re email wishes.” “Oh, I guess that how things are done nowadays.” “Yes, mom.” Mom thought a little bit – “Let me see them!”)
My personal thanks to my neighborhood friends Marie and Meres for giving me an extra special local birthday celebration.  And of course a very special thanks to Ursula/mom, who at 87 still makes the best home cooked German birthday dinner in New York ❤ !

Photo of the day: NOT BAD FOR 58?!


Photo of the day: NOT BAD FOR 58?!
Hans Von Rittern, born December 21, 1955. Happy Birthday to me!



Photo of the day: “COMMON LET’S GO HOME, MY PAWS ARE COLD!” – Another snow day for my dog ‘Noel’. She loves sniffing all the new snow, and making paw prints in the snow. But, after a while when her paws are too cold, she grabs my handle of the leash and pulls me to let me know “common let’s go home, my paws are cold!”


#7 train subway booth, Sunnyside, Queens

#7 train subway booth, Sunnyside, Queens

Photo of the day: SEEN AT MY SUBWAY BOOTH ~ A LESSON IN MANNERS: “Excuse me please, can you, can I have, thank you have a nice day.”



Photo of the day: FLASH MOB SINGS HAPPY 103rd BIRTHDAY/THANKSGIVING TO ETHEL OF SUNNYSIDE ♫♪ ! – My neighbor and art patron Ethel Plimack celebrates her 103rd birthday today!! Thanksgiving + Hanukkah + 103 years! WOW! Fellow neighbor Patricia Dorfman and member of the Sunnyside Artist League organized a flash mob for 11:59am today when neighbors and their children appeared on Ethel’s doorstep and sang a special “Happy Birthday” to her! What a special day !

Photo of the day: FROZEN FRIDAY 2012

Sunnyside, Queens November 8, 2012

Sunnyside, Queens November 8, 2012

Photo of the day: FROZEN FRIDAY 2012It’s hard to imagine but one year ago today, just nine days after hurricane Sandy, New York received 4 inches of snow, it was the heaviest early snowfall ever in November that night. (In the Philippines last night was the biggest typhoon storm ever with 225 mile per hour wind gusts…global warming…)

We have such a dense canopy of trees in Sunnyside, the weight of the heavy wet snow made for an eerie yet beautifully dramatic walk that night as they bowed dangerously low. Silent night, snowy night. All wasn’t calm, but it was quite a sight. Today November 8, 2013 it will thankfully be 54°.

Vintage photo of the day: WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT?

Where were you

Vintage Photo of the day: WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT? – Today is the 10 year anniversary of the 2003 massive, long lasting blackout.
The Northeast blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage that occurred throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario  on Thursday, August 14, 2003, just before 4:10 p.m. EDT. While some power was restored by 11 p.m., many did not get power back until two days later.At the time, it was the second most widespread blackout in history,  after the 1999 southern Brazil blackout. The blackout affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states.
But, in 2006 Queens was hit by the worst blackout in NYC history, it lasted five days during a scorching heat wave. Sunnyside, Queens where I live, was effected the longest out of any neighborhood in the city and our power remained out for an entire week. Two dogs died on my block from heat exhaustion. My mother slept sitting upright by the window. No food was to be bought or had. Water was being handed out by the red cross. Mayor Bloomberg deemed to go to Queens not until the 5th day.
Where were ~you~ when the lights went out?
The film: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? is a 1968  comedy film with Doris Day, directed by Hy Averback. It is set in New York City during the infamous Northeast Blackout of 1965, in which 25 million people scattered throughout seven states lost electricity for several hours
2006 Queens black out 5 days long: http://gothamist.com/2006/07/21/queens_fights_t.php



Photo of the day: SUNNYSIDE AUGUST SUNSET – photographed on my way home approx. 7:45pm. Empire State Building on the horizon.



1961, my 6th Birthday party

1961, my 6th Birthday party

How we found our missing chairs after 20 years!
New Years Eve 1992 with grandmother aka "Oma"

New Years Eve 1992 with grandmother aka “Oma”

In the summer of 1960 my family, consisting of my mother Ursula, her mother Amalie and me, had moved across the street from a furnished walk up apartment to a brand new sprawling modern apartment building on Woodhaven Blvd named The Imperial. The lobby of the building looked like George Jetson’s living room, furnished in very high 1960’s modern style, it was wonderful, but there was more furniture in the lobby than there was in our apartment! Having come from a furnished apartment, we didn’t have much to move in with. Mom was a single parent secretary with impeccable skills who supported her family all by herself. Coming from a proper German family she had been taught you only buy what you can afford. Now that mom had arrived in America, her co-workers convinced Ursula that buying things “on time” was the all American way!
Bloomingdales 1959 American Design Foundation furniture ad

Bloomingdales 1959 American Design Foundation furniture ad

With that in mind, since we needed a dining room set first, mom would look in the stores after work. Ursula’s finer taste led her to Bloomingdale’s, which in those days had an elaborate furniture department. There on the upper floor were the latest of modern designs, and this being 1960, the style was of course Danish Modern. Mom tells me it was “love at first sight” when she was instantly drawn to a display island in the middle of the floor, roped off by velvet ropes, showing a complete dining set designed in 1959 by Kipp Stewart and Stewart MacDougal for the American Design Foundation for the Winchendon Furniture Company.
Six chairs, dinning table with extender leaves, end table and china cabinet. Solid cherry wood with black leather upholstery. “It was exactly my taste!” mom tells me. Although she does not recall the price, she does recall it was “terribly expensive” but fate had intervened – it was on sale! Even with this good fortune, it was still out of her budget range. “Why not buy it on time?” familiarly chimed the sales clerk. Sold! It was delivered soon afterwards.
For 53 years our family history has revolved around that set. It has been photographed for every special occasion, every birthday, every holiday, it has truly been the center of our lives. But, lives change. Situations change. So, in 1993 we left New York for Tucson, Arizona believing in the theory that ’the grass is always greener on the other side.’ We hired Mayflower movers who specializes in cross-country moves. We were one of about four families on board the huge, huge truck having their things moved out west. Ursula supervised the movers with an eagle eye, especially her beloved dining room chairs. Since the chairs are so light, it was decided they would be placed at the very, very top of our piled section so as not to dent or crush them. Once we got to Arizona we stayed in a furnished motel first, till we could find the house of our dreams. When the Mayflower movers finally arrived a week after our arrival, our furniture was placed in storage. We first settled on a rental house with option to buy (which we didn’t) and had our furniture packed up again and delivered to our new ‘temporary’ home. As the truck arrived, we watched as the doors opened. There perched at the top were their  treasured chairs. One, two, three, four came off the truck. “Where are the other two?” mom asked with great concern. “Don’t worry lady, they’re there,” the movers assured her. They were not.
Tucson Thanksgiving 1994

Tucson Thanksgiving 1994

We filed claims with Mayflower movers, they gave us the run around with excuses as to where they could be. The stop before us in the mid west, the stop after us in California, somewhere. Surely we thought, surely someone would be decent enough to say, ‘hey, we have two chairs that don’t belong to us.’ No one ever did. We believe that since the partition dividing each families furniture was not completely from floor to ceiling on the truck, the chairs must have toppled over into another families things and were never reported, too much of an inconvenience to some one else.
In time, Ursula finally found the house of her dreams on East Hawk Place at the foot of Mount Lemon. Once again the movers were called. By the year 1999 I realized I was the quintessential New Yorker, miserable in Tucson, and in January 2000 moved back to NYC. One year later my mother to move ‘closer’ to me decided to move to Ft. Meyers Beach, Florida. So the movers (not Mayflower!) were called yet again. Mom’s first  house kept getting flooded by the hurricanes so she  moved yet again to one final house in Ft. Meyers Beach, until three hurricanes descended onto the Florida Gulf within three months. The one thing mom was determined to save each time was her beloved dining room set and she perched it up onto other furniture, thereby saving it from all the floods. Three hurricanes being too much, mom finally moved back to NYC!  For each and every one of the seven moves Ursula’s beloved dining room set has survived – except for the two chairs. Now in 2013 she is firmly ensconced around the corner from me in Sunnyside, Queens. But in all the years since 1993, whenever we have a special occasion at the dinner table, it is only a matter of time till mom will say, “you know, we had six of these chairs!”
On July 18 this year, in the midst of New York’s scorching 100F degree heat wave, I volunteered to go to mom’s holistic pet shop, located on 9th Street in the east village section of Manhattan. Now fate begins to intervene. I have gone to this shop many times before. The subway stop is 8th Street. Oddly enough, I automatically got off at 14th Street. So by foot I headed south. Instead of turning onto East 9th Street, for some unknown reason I turned onto East 12th Street. As I headed down the street, I was drawn into the wonderful The Cure Thrift Shop where proceeds go to the diabetes foundation. The lure of cool air and wonderful things pulled me in. I kept walking as if pulled to the back of the store. Then, when just about 6 feet from the back, my eyes saw – our dining room chairs, exactly two of them! !  It was an absolute surreal moment. Was I seeing right? This couldn’t be. In my days, I have been to every last thrift shop, antique store, garage sale, estate sale, street fair and flea market in New York, upstate, New England, Arizona and Florida – I have never ever seen any part of our dining room set – and here they were…the two of them, as if hey were waiting for me. I was almost afraid to touch them to only then discover the mirage wasn’t real – they were real, priced at $500 for the pair. “Do you know anything about these chairs” I carefully asked?
Stewart-MacDougal Chair in CURE Thrift Shop

Stewart-MacDougal Chair in CURE Thrift Shop

CURE Thrift Shop 111 East 12th Street

CURE Thrift Shop 111 East 12th Street

Chair in the #4 subway

Chair in the #4 subway

Hans' private seating

Hans’ private seating

I was told by a very delightful girl named Ali that they were donated by a woman who had had them for “many years.” My hand started going for my cell phone as I tried to walk calmly out of the store. I rushed across the street and speed dialed mom, “You’re not going to believe this, but I found your chairs!” Mom insisted I was clouded with romantic notions and that it just could not be. Maybe the back is different, different legs, different wood or seat, it just couldn’t be, not after 20 years!  “No mom…it’s them!“ We agreed that fate had intervened and that despite the fact this was certainly not planned for in our budget, if these were truly, truly the chairs, I had to buy them! I recognized the nicks and dents we had accidentally put in them over the years – these were undeniably OUR chairs! Unbelievable! I offered Ali $400 which she warmly accepted. I told Ali the entire story as we both got the Twilight Zone chills and teared up and hugged. I rushed home to show mom the photos I had taken of ‘her’ chairs. “It’s them” she exclaimed, as she just kept staring at the photo in the camera.

The very next day I planned to take the chairs to mom’s apartment, one by one on the subway. Liz the manager greeted me only to reveal that she herself had been the past owner of the infamous chairs for just a few years, before that they had been found in a second hand furniture store. Liz herself reupholstered the seats in white vinyl and insisted the original seats are still underneath, which they are. I thanked her profusely and gingerly carried the first chair to go home to mom.
Ursula and her chairs - 20 years later!

Ursula and her chairs – 20 years later!

Now in New York City, you see all characters carry all sorts of odd things on the subway. The subway doors opened, I placed my chair in the corner and sat down. I got all the required bemused looks. “You Won’t believe the story behind this chair!” I exclaimed, I just couldn’t hold my excitement back as I told a young surprised design student the story. My stop arrived, I rushed to her apartment building and got into the elevator as quickly as possible. Ursula was waiting at the door, “Oh my god, it really IS the chair”, mom just looked at me and then the chair and then me, then the chair…We went into the living room and I placed the first of the missing two chairs, next to it’s mates. After twenty long years they were together again! But wait – I had to go back to the city and do the whole trip over again with chair number two! I headed out the door, heady with excitement and rushed to get missing chair #2. After several hours on July 19, twenty years later, I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but our historic beloved chairs were together again, the dining room set was just as it was on that day in Bloomingdales when that sales person said to Ursula: “Why don’t you just buy them on time?” !








THE CURE THRIFT SHOP benefiting The Diabetes Foundation
111 East 12th Street, open daily 11:00 – 8:00
PS: Bizarrely enough, a few days later, TCM (Ted Turner Movie) channel showed the 1970 Mel Brooks comedy film “The Twelve Chairs” for the very first time on their channel.
Sunday July 28th, I actually found the original Bloomingdale’s ad for the chairs on the internet. Life is surreal.

Photo of the day: THE POPE HAS A YARD SALE


Photo of the day: POPE HAS YARD SALE – If men of clergy – popes, pastors, priests are called ‘men of the cloth’ . . . then this should be one helluva sale! My question is, what will they be wearing next season?!

Photo of the day: THANK YOU FOR ALL THE LOVE ♥ !


Photo of the day: THANK YOU to my diverse group of friends who showed up for the opening night reception party of my one man show at The Brogue! 4910 Skillman Avenue, between 49/50th Streets, Sunnyside, NY. The photos will be on display and for sale for three months!

Photos of the week: Come celebrate my one man show Friday, June 14th , 7:30-10:00pm !!

The photos were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that Hans' friends soon would be there!

The photos were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that Hans’ friends soon would be there!

Come celebrate my one man show!!
15 photos beautifully displayed at The Brogue Bar in my hood of Sunnyside/LIC Queens.
Located at 4910 Skillman Avenue (between 49/50th Streets). 
Easy to get to: take N/R/Q train to Queensboro Plaza, transfer to “7” GREEN/LOCAL train, get off either 46th or 52nd Street and walk 2 avenues north.
Let’s make this a birthday/Christmas/4th of July/ Labor Day celebration!
Wine and cheese will be served, cash bar.
Please come – I will be so happy to see you all!


ART FAIR 2013 collage

Photos of the day: STOP BY AND SEE AND BUY SOME OF MY PHOTOS: You have two chances in the next two weeks. This Sunday, June 9th, is the “Invincible Summer” Art Fair at Queen of Angels Parish Hall, 44-04 Skillman Ave, corner 44th Street, 2 blocks from subway, phone 718-392-0011. I’ll be selling some of my photos from 1pm – 5pm.
Photos starting as low as $20 and $25 !
MORE GREAT NEWS! I will have my own exhibit of 12-14 of my works at The Brogue Restaurant and Bar on 4910 Skillman Avenue (between 49/50th Streets) here in my hood Sunnyside. The reception party is tentatively scheduled for Friday June 14th. Please come all! This is the first time I am having an exhibit of my own!
So come to both occasions but definitely come to the reception tentatively scheduled June 14th.!
Hopefully see you this Sunday too 🙂