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

Posts tagged “World Trade Center

Photo of the day: RED WHITE AND BLUE, REMEMBERING TYRONE MAY

red white blue world trade center
Photo of the day: RED WHITE AND BLUE, REMEMBERING TYRONE MAY – The World Trade Center 9/11 memorial’s security walls came down today and as a native New Yorker tour guide who visited the site several times a week, it is very odd and it takes some getting used to that there are no longer any long snaking lines, advance $2 tickets and airport type security screening. As of now – you can walk right up to the waterfalls. Tyrone May’s family came to remember him as they privately visited the newly opened museum, they left this red, white and blue remembrance for him. On this rainy day, the raindrops looked like tears.

Photo of the day: MAY 14, 2014 THE WORLD TRADE CENTER MUSEUM FINALLY OPENS

First look

First look

Photo of the day: MAY 14, 2014 THE WORLD TRADE CENTER MUSEUM FINALLY OPENS


Photo of the day: THE DIVINE AUDACITY ~ CATHEDRAL IN NEW YORK CITY TO START CHARGING ADMISSION

ST JOHN DIVINE DOLLAR SIGN

Photo of the day: THE DIVINE AUDACITY ~ CATHEDRAL IN NEW YORK CITY TO START CHARGING ADMISSION – Over the weekend New York City’s gothic treasure, St. John the Divine had the ‘divine’ audacity/necessity to send a memorandum out to the tour guide industry advising us that as of February 1st of this year tour groups will be charged admission. Brace yourselves – $5.00 (4€ euros) – to enter a church! The 9/11 memorial charges a cover charge of $2.00.

For the many, many of you that I have taken there on my tours, you well know it is one of the mostly undiscovered treasures of the city. They are fascinated to see the unfinished towers and dome. They love the story of the center doors only opening three times a year for Easter, the blessing of the bicycles and the blessing of the animals. To see the World Trade Center Towers on the columns in front begins to fascinate the wonderful mixing of old and new history inside.

Inside there is always a sense of awe. I advise my guests to take a brochure and put a donation in the donation box at the entrance. You then pass wonderful hand carved 15th century German wooden choir stalls and enter this magnificent world of surprises. The fireman’s memorial, the American history stained glass window that has the prototype of the first television of 1926 in it as well as movie stars Jack Benny and Mary Livingston. Another stained glass window shows the sinking of the Titanic. I tell the touching story of how the cathedral cared for the AIDS patients of NYC when no one else dared to as we look at the AIDS memorial. I show them the plaque dedicated to the horrible bookstore fire that damaged the church in 2001, ruining the organ’s pipes for 10 years. I show them the ‘zipper’ of the church marking the finished and unfinished part of the cathedral. I show them such wonderful worldwide gifts as the 17th century Barberini tapestries, the golden chests donated by the King of Siam, the urns given by the emperor of Japan, the Keith Haring graffiti triptych in the Asian chapel donated by John Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono. I lead them through the 7 chapels dedicated to the main 7 languages spoken in NYC in 1892. I take them up near the altar for one of the most breathtaking views of the front stained glass window containing 10,000 pieces of glass, 40 feet in diameter. I show them menorahs on the altar as well, explaining the church welcomes all faiths.

Well – they welcome all faiths, but they now do not welcome groups unless you pay to get into the house of god. Never at no time in New York has there been a house of god that has had the need to charge admission into what I thought is the house of the people. St. John the Divine is desperate for money, last year having sold off precious adjacent land to the church and allowing god awful high rise apartments to be built, therefore obstructing the rays of sunlight into the north side of the church. Now they are obstructing the tourists of New York.

As a fellow tour guide Tom said: “What they really, really, need is help to grow their endowment. Presumably they have an endowment, like Universities and Museums. With a massive old building that must have massive maintenance costs, there is no longer a massive congregation as in the old days to keep up the place. That’s where smart and competent money-managers take hold of the finances of the institution and go on a major campaign to grow a big endowment, sufficient for maintenance. This is how Carnegie Hall was saved. The famed Koch Brothers have contributed literally hundreds of millions of dollars: $100,000,000 EACH to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, to Lincoln Center and The American Museum of Natural History, total $300,000,000. So, who’s in charge of this program at The Cathedral?”

They are nickel and diming, almost literally, a huge problem. It will have the most unfortunate and unintended consequence of keeping some likely visitors O-U-T. The sudden sticker shock of $5.00 will leave many at the door. I can understand starting at $2.00 – but $5.00?! A full bus of 55 guests would cost $275!! The biggest losers here are the young visitors to New York, the student tour groups. My student tour groups from Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas and all along the coast. They are already on a tight budget, eating at McDonalds to save money on the big trip from their home town. They enter St. John the Divine starry-eyed and filled with wonderment at this magnificent gothic structure, the likes of which most will not get to see unless they are privileged enough to go to Europe. Sadly, it is simply adding itself to the list of those famous cathedrals of Europe all forced to do the same out of necessity. Notre Dame in Paris charges €3/$4.10 to see the treasury of riches. The Basilica in Rome charges 12€ euros/$16.00. The Cologne/Köln Dom in Germany charges 4€ Euros/$5.00. Seville cathedral in Spain charges 8€ euros/$10 dollars. St. Paul’s cathedral in London charges 16€ euros/$21.85. The wonderful art-filled little adobe churches in poor Tucson, Arizona do not charge at all. St. Patrick’s cathedral on the wealthy Fifth Avenue here in NYC does not need to charge. St. John the Divine in New York now wants to be added to the world wide list of those charging admission.

Perhaps St. John the Divine got the idea from the very recent surprising November 2013 decision of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to charge $10/7 € euros admission and perhaps I should feel I am getting a bargain. (In comparison, The Museum of Natural History’s full price adult admission charge is $22/16€ euros). But is this the beginning of a possible disturbing and disheartening trend in the famed churches New York City? Where the declining parish necessitates charging at the door? Most of the churches in Harlem are only surviving on the Sunday gospel tour dollars. It is no longer ‘the fashion’ to go to church in most large cities, therefore the declining membership results in declining donations. These grand cathedrals were built for the masses – church going masses who today – are tourists. A sad trend.

I am only a New York City tour guide and have no idea how this cathedral functions. But, what is needed at St. John the Divine is a professional, knowledgeable, experienced, committed, well paid, position of fundraiser to grow a serious endowment. Considering their list of well connected parishioners, their current plan seems like nothing more than a high school-level accounting class solution…if that.

Here is the memo: 

To: Professional Guides, Tour Operators, and Guest Lecturers
From: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Department of Public Education and Visitor Services
Please note the following updates in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s visiting group policy, effective February 1, 2014.
• Self-guided groups are encouraged to schedule their visit at least two weeks in advance. Groups are defined as ten or more visitors. Scheduling requests can be made through a web site request form, or through the Public Education Office by phone or email below. The group will receive confirmation of a one-hour time period to visit the Cathedral.
• Group arrivals are permitted between 9am and 5pm daily.
• Groups should enter through the Cathedral’s southern door at Amsterdam Avenue. The group leader or guide must check in at the Visitor Center upon arrival.
• Payment of the discounted group admission of $5 per person must be made upon arrival. One group leader or guide receives complimentary admission.
• Groups that do not pay group admission may only enter the Cathedral as individual visitors.
• The Cathedral accepts cash, checks, and Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Checks should be made payable to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
• Tour companies are encouraged to join the Cathedral’s voucher program to obviate admission payment on arrival in exchange for discounts and quarterly billing. To join the voucher program or receive more information please contact the Public Education Office.
• Scheduled groups will be given access to the entire Cathedral, including restrooms, as well as brochures for their participants. Confirmed groups will be alerted of changes to access as soon as possible. Groups that schedule to arrive during times of limited access will be notified in their confirmation.
• Late or early group arrivals will be accommodated as best as possible, however we do not
guarantee access to all parts of the Cathedral.


Photo of the day: HANS CRUISES NEW YORK

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

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?

Can you tell it was cold?


Mondays on Memory Lane: DINING AT STOUFFER’S “TOP OF THE SIX’S”

TOP OF SIX'S POSTCARD

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

Lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi

TOP OF SIX'S POSTCARD (2)

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.

TOP OF SIX'S

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

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: REMEMBERING, 9/11 NEVER GETS EASIER

REMEMBERING

Photo of the day: REMEMBERING, 9/11 NEVER GETS EASIER – The mood was still very somber ‘the day after’ on September 12. Standing by the side of the south waterfall was this survivor who just simply stood there for hours with his hand touching his loved ones name. One of 2,998 names officially counted. It never gets easier.

Photo of the day: 9/11/2013 SO MANY LOSES / SO MANY GAINS

THE MOMENT & WTC
Photo of the day: 9/11/2013 SO MANY LOSES / SO MANY GAINS (and…karma is a bitch!) – On this day in New York when we remember the over 3,000 loses of loved ones at The World Trade, a work place I once called home on the 102nd floor, we also last night gained so very much back! A dedicated group of individuals who sought to stop the hemorrhaging of this city, banded together and defeated one of the most corrupt, cold hearted, and scheming politicians since Boss Tweed in 1853, councilwoman Christine Quinn last night.
Weiner's goodbye

Weiner’s goodbye

Donny Moss and 91 year old Natasha

Donny Moss and 91 year old Natasha

The mighty Quinn: For the past twelve years, Quinn and Bloomberg have systematically destroyed New York City as the city has become a city of the über rich and the very poor, 45+% now live near or at the poverty level. We have lost over 12 hospitals during their term in office, glass luxury apartments replace them. Quinn ruled the city and controlled the zoning laws with her slush funds making the city open season for the greedy real estate developers as zoning law changes have become the norm. South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 is being torn down, neighborhoods like Harlem, Greenwich Village and Soho are loosing their soul. Her tearing down of St. Vincent’s Hospital, it’s church and the 9/11 memorial is the most egregious. As the years passed, she became the most powerful politician only second to Bloomberg, a power that was had by vitriolic temper outbursts and control of the city funds.

 Arrogance
How much is that doggie in the window? To show her lack of character, she was against all animal rights activists to the point of refusing to pass a bill that would now make it mandatory to require sprinkler systems in pet shops. Let the puppies and kittens burn, along with the workers.
Daniela and ABQ friends

Daniela and ABQ friends

Karma is a bitch! In 2011, I lost my Gray Line tour guide job of seven years thanks to Quinn. She single handedly destroyed the double decker tour guide industry by pushing through a ‘headset bill’ in order to please a few well heeled residents of Greenwich Village who had complained that tour guides on the open mics were “too loud”. The original bill did not provide for the headsets to be connected to a live tour guide, me. Councilwoman Gail Brewer added the proviso in the bill that a live guide must be giving the tour. Since Twin America the monopoly that owns the double decker tour bus companies City Sights and Gray Line are heavy contributors to her Christine Quinn’s campaign, miraculously the ‘live guide’ proviso was taken out of the bill in the middle of the night. No sound tests were ever done as required. I headed a group called “Keep New York Live” and protested at every TV station and at city hall with the help of my fellow tour guides. On the final day of our fight we had a twelve noon rally planned on the steps of city hall. No press showed up. At 12:15 I called friend and transit reporter Greg Mocker of WPIX11 and asked ‘where you all?’ Greg’s response “well it’s canceled isn’t it? Quinn said it was canceled.” The bill passed with Quinn’s single authority. Over 200 tour guides were no longer ‘allowed’ to come to work or were given insulting low buy out packages. No work, no health care, nothing.
Well Ms. Christine Quinn – karma is a fierce bitch. YOU took MY job away in 2011 and now I  have taken YOUR job away in 2013 ! ! !
2011 TOUR GUIDE PROTEST at NBC STUDIOS

2011 TOUR GUIDE PROTEST at NBC STUDIOS

The heir to the throne: With an arrogant sense of entitlement as covered in the New York Times, she also had the ’empty chair syndrome.’ At many of the local mayoral forums chairs were set up on stage for all the mayoral candidates, hers – was usually empty. If she did deem to show up, her head never looked up from her blacberry.
NEW YORK TIMES AND PRESS COVERAGE

NEW YORK TIMES AND PRESS COVERAGE

The cowardly lioness: Donny Moss became the monkey on Christine Quinn’s back, she could not leave her house without Donny trailing her as he held up his signs and calling out the truth about her record. No matter what camera angle she tried, there were either Donny or the ‘ABQ’ people behind her. It came to the point that Quinn would not enter any venue through the front door, she had security sneak in her the back door for fear of bad publicity photos and press. What sort of beginning is it to your term as office when you run and hide from your public? Too yellow, spineless and cowardly to face your constituents.
The awesome DONNY MOSS & DANIELA watching DeBLASSIO'S victory

The awesome DONNY MOSS & DANIELA watching DeBLASSIO’S victory

Rag tag group takes down Quinn – Crazy cat ladies, people who dress up their dogs, horse lovers, gay activists, passionate New Yorkers like the incredible Donny Moss, Arthur Cheliotes, Allie Feldman & Wendy Kelman Neu formed groups “Defeat Christine Quinn” and “NYC Is Not For Sale” respectively which then morphed into the “ABQ – Anybody But Quinn” campaign, unprecedented in New York’s political history. We canvassed subway stations every night, manned phone banks and hounded Quinn wherever she made and appearance, Donny Moss being the most wonderfully persistent of all of us! In that time Quinn went from leading in the polls by wide margins to plummeting weekly. No greater plummet than election night when, as other candidates percentages went up….hers went down from 26% to 18% to an embarrassing 15%.
Brian Gari "cat calls" republican mayoral candidate Catsimatidis

Brian Gari “cat calls” republican mayoral candidate Catsimatidis

Picture election night: Each candidate had their large expensive venues filled with their high paying donors and political strategists in their expensive suits with the media tripping over them. Yet here we were, in a little bar called Mustang Sally’s on the west side, fifty of us in the back room, in our sweaty t-shirts and jeans, none of us rich, only rich in passion and conviction. It wasn’t the Bloomberg/Romney-like dollars that Quinn had, it wasn’t all the New York newspaper’s endorsements, it wasn’t the political pundits who said she would win, no, it was the people with pet hair on their now iconic red ABQ (Anyone But Quinn) t-shirts that had all the might. It was volunteers like 91 year old Natasha and my 87 year old mother Ursula. We have changed the course of New York’s history. Never underestimate the passion and the anger of the crazy old cat lady!
AUNT MIA AND HANS

AUNT MIA AND HANS

DONNY MOSS AND HANS VON RITTERN

DONNY MOSS AND HANS VON RITTERN


Photo of the day: THE DESTRUCTION OF SOUTH STREET SEAPORT, SEPT. 9 FINAL DAY

South Street Seaport 2013

South Street Seaport 2013

Photo of the day: THE DESTRUCTION OF SOUTH STREET SEAPORT – The ever changing skyline of Manhattan is about to change again, the beloved South Street Seaport also known as Pier 17, thanks to the ever greedy Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is about to be torn down at the end of September. FINAL DAY OPEN IS THIS MONDAY SEPT. 9th.
What will replace it? A big soulless glass box (mall) with a red letter sign atop of it “South Street Seaport”. You wouldn’t need big lit red letters screaming “Seaport” to remind people of where you are if you have removed any vestige of our once great seaport’s history.  One of our old sailing ships the Peking will soon cease to exist for lack of funds to repair it, that will leave us with on single solitary ship in what once was the greatest and busiest harbor in the world. Our Mayor Bloomberg and his cohort councilwoman Christine Quinn should be tarred and feathered and drummed out of New York for destroying our seaport’s heritage.
Anyone But Quinn for mayor!

Mondays on Memory Lane – MY DAILY WALK OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE

Brooklyn Bridge 1980

Brooklyn Bridge 1980

Mondays on Memory Lane – MY DAILY WALK OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE IN 1980 – In the spring of 1980 I moved into the newly rennovated Brooklyn Eagle Warehouse at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. I was 24 years old and shared the 1,200 square foot apartment for a mere $700 a month, $350 each…yes $350! The Brooklyn Waterfront was still undeveloped and actually dangerous at night.

Eagle Warehouse

Eagle Warehouse

Eagle entrance at night

Eagle entrance at night

DUMBO didn’t exist, what did exist was a dumping ground for unwanted animals, dead animals and an occasional dead human being. In 1983, I got a job at Dancker, Sellew & Douglas Design Firm on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center. Each morning, to save to cost of the .75¢ subway fare, I headed out over then 100 year old Brooklyn Bridge by foot towards Manhattan, across the steps of City Hall (there was no security in those days), through unrenovated downtown Manhattan, to the Trade Center South Tower elevators which carried me up to my desk on the 102nd floor in the clouds. How much more of a quintessential New York daily routine could one have?! It was a wonderful time.

The view from my desk at World Trade, south tower

The view from my desk at World Trade, south tower


Photo of the day: TWIN TOWERS 2013

High rise and Verbascum Thapsus (Great or Common Mullein).

High rise and Verbascum Thapsus (Great or Common Mullein).

Photo of the day: TWIN TOWERS 2013 – The iconic twin towers of The World Trade Center are gone. But today in this era of overbuilding in New York City, if you look closely and use your imagination, there are still some ‘twin towers’ to be seen . . . some more beautiful than others.