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

Posts tagged “vintage postcards

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,


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.)



Postcard story from New York – “THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE – ‘THE JUMPING OFF PLACE‘ ” post card sent with a George Washington connection!


Postcard story from New York – “THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE – ‘THE JUMPING OFF PLACE‘ ” post card sent with a George Washington connection!

New York, June 02, 12:30pm, 1906

To: Miss May McCorkle

Davis & Wiley Bank.

Salisbury, North Carolina

“The jumping off place”

A macabre sense of humor or did the sender really jump? No records have been kept of early day suicide jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge, so we will have to guess: joke or jump?

The addressee is rather an astonishing distinguished surprise! Miss Elizabeth May McCorkle of North Carolina, was wife to ruling church elder Mr. Orin Datus Davis.

Mr. Davis has served the church in various ways, including the guardianship of its invested funds. He has been its representative many times in Presbyteries and Synods, and was a Commissioner to meetings of the General Assembly in Lexington, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee. He also was founder of the Davis and Wiley Bank of North Carolina which dates back to the mid 1800’s.

In his married life Mr. Davis was fortunate as in other matters. Seeking guidance from the “Giver of all Good“, he selected Miss Elizabeth May McCorkle as his helpmate and companion in life aka wife. She is the eldest daughter of the late James M. McCorkle, Esq., a leading lawyer of the Salisbury Bar, and a lineal descendant of Colonel Richard Brandon of Revolutionary fame. Colonel Brandon’s daughter, Elizabeth, it will be remembered, was the “little woman” who provided a hasty breakfast for General George Washington on the occasion of his visit to Salisbury in 1781 ! So Elizabeth May McCorkle is the daughter of the “little woman” who served George Washington breakfast. Amazing the things you discover when researching old postcards!!


1939 WORLD'S FAIR collage


August 10, 1pm, 1939

To: F. W. Woolworth Co



Hell-o Everybody! Surely having a nice time. Waited 1 hr 40 min. to get General Motors Building. I am sitting here where I can see millions of peple waiting to see Billy Rose Aquacade. We are  going to tour N.Y. City to-morrow. Will see you soon. How is the kitten?


Description: Demonstrating a new form in theater construction, the Hall of Music uses the flowing lines of functional construction throughout. Two and a half thousand spectators daily fill it’s auditorium to hear and see many of the great musical presentations of our times. Architects – Reinhard and Hofmeister. 

– Bellefontaine, (Logan County) Ohio in 1939 had a population of 9,800 people. Today it has approx. 13,200.

– The 1939 NY World’s Fair opened on April 30, 1939, a very hot Sunday. The April 30 date coincided with the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as President in New York City. President Theodore Roosevelt and Albert Einstein gave opening speeches.

– Television was seen my most people for the very first time in a transparent set to show it wasn’t trickery and really technology.

– The General Motors building Katherine waited so long in line for was actually called ‘Futurama’ and showed life in the future 1960 with vast automated highways and expressways all done in a futuristic art deco-like style.

– At the World’s Fair Music Hall a visitor could be entertained by Bill “Bo Jangles” Robinson and a cast of more than 200 other performers in Michael Todd’s “Hot Mikado.”

– The famed Aquacade show was produced by Broadway celebrity Billy Rose (once married to Fanny Brice) “a brilliant ‘girl’ show of spectacular size and content.” The amphitheater seated 10,000 people and looked out over the water towards a stage 200 feet deep and 311 feet wide. Eight thousand gallons of water a minute poured into the making of a man-made Niagara which stretched 260 feet and rose forty feet in height. The art deco 11,000 seat amphitheatre was at the north end of Meadow Lake. The pool and the 300 by 200-foot (61 m) stage could be hidden behind a lighted 40-foot (12 m) high curtain of water.

– The inaugural Aquacade that Katherine saw starred Olympians Eleanor Holm, Johnny Weissmuller (later replaced by Buster Crabbe) and newcomer Esther Williams. The show contained 500 dancers, actors and swimmers. Gertrude Ederle, a Flushing Queens resident and the first woman to swim the English Channel  was an Aquacade star. Queens Borough President Donald R. Manes dedicated the pool to her in 1978.

– The New York State Marine Amphitheatre was sadly torn down in 1996 because of local opposition to renovating the asbestos-contaminated structure as a concert venue.

– The Woolworth Bellefontaine, Ohio location is today a Footlocker.

– And . . . how was the kitten doing that the workers at the local Woolworth‘s had taken in??

Here is a rare silent video of the 1939 show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na3z6K1j83w