Posted on May 9, 2018 in All Blog Posts, Travel

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

Tom Wolfe

From the Statue of Liberty to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Flatiron Building to the Staten Island Ferry, Times Square to Grand Central Station, The Empire State Building to Rockefeller Center…my, oh my…  Washington Park to Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the Ground Zero Memorial, from outdoor movies to outdoor murals, to ice skating in Central Park… if you can’t find it in New York… it probably doesn’t exist. Where else can you find a Christmas tree 100 feet tall topped by a Swarovski crystal star 9.5 feet tall? Or cool off on a hot summer day with wasabi ice cream or olive oil gelato? Order from 20 different varieties of bottled water on the menu? (The Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Center) What other city has to narrow the list of movies about their metropolis to the “Top 100”? Yikes!

The Big Apple was made to order for souvenir handkerchiefs, covering every topic imaginable. For the devoted tourist, let’s start with the big picture – from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks, the Catskills to Long Island…



With an endless array of “to do’s” and “to see’s”



Natural wonder Niagra Falls was a perennial favorite for honeymooners, and souvenir hankies and hand painted handkerchief boxes abound.




Charming villages scattered along the shores of Long Island offered a summer respite from the cacophony of the city, proffering strolls through the Whalers Museum, the Customs House, quaint antique shops and hushed churches. True, there was always polo playing, auto racing, and dinner at the yacht club, as the graphics on these hankies confirm, but today it appears that summering on Long Island is, at least for some, more about being seen, than taking time to retreat, refresh and restore. NYNY_010





Coming into the city offers spectacular skylines from multiple perspectives.

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“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald



Even Donna Karan pays tribute to the New York Harbor with mini-histories of important nautical vessels anchoring (pun intended) each corner.



Several handkerchiefs focus on landmark events in New York history.


“There is something in the New York ar that makes sleep useless.”

Simone de Beauvoir



These “Then and Now” hankies are charming. Note the style of the cars in the “Now”section of Central Park, which helps date the handkerchief.



Another “Then and Now” features the Old Resevoir, and the New York Public Library. Look closely and you’ll see the famous marble statues of the lions Fortitude and Patience guardingthe entrace to the Library. First named Leo Astor and Leo Lenox after the library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox, they were renamed Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, as he believed these were the attributes New Yorkers would need to survive the economic crisis, and they’ve been called that ever since.



When Trinity Church was built, the Anglicans had to first request a land grant from the Governor. Eventually, in 1705 Queen Anne granted a permanent grant of 215 acres. Trinity has several satellite chapels, including it’s first one, St. Paul’s, which is celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2016. (Following his inauguration, George Washington prayed in St. Paul’s Chapel.) Today known as Trinity Church Wall Street, the church and its chapels have an incredibly rich history which you can read about on the web.



I’ll try to refrain from digressing into too many stories, but each of these handkerchiefs is rich with history. When we discarded these fashion artifacts, we also dispensed with the stories, traditions and memories which accompanied these keepsakes. The next few hankies are historical compilations of famous landmarks, events, and award winning architecture.

The round hankie was a favorite souvenir with many. I’m particularly drawn to the quiet elegrance of the shadow hankie on the right. A classic.

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The pinwheel layout allowed a lady to flutter and flounce all four corners of her flirty pocket square.  Note the prominent position of Fraunces Tavern, featured centrally on the left, and anchoring the bottom border on the right. It served as headquarters for George Washington and was a venue for peace negotiations with the British. It claims to be Manhattan’s oldest building and is part of the New York Freedom Trail.


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This hankie cracks me up. It features Times Square, Penn Station, etc. but then it appears as though the artist ran out of steam, and just started listing things – busses, taxis, hotels, dining, etc. It’s fun and fanciful, but slightly silly.



This cranberry beauty pays tribute to the architecture and landmarks of New York with a celebratory ribbon border. Lovely.



Handsome and hip, this bulletin board/pin-up layout on the left seems like it came directly from a Madison Avenue brainstorming session on the wonders of New York. On the right, another artist’s tribute to the skyline.

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This delightful charcoal and persimmon bird’s eye rendering captures New York’s hustle & bustle while managing to maintain a sleek and sophisticated sheen to the environs. This is the city everyone wants to experience.


“Give me such shows – give me the streets of Manhattan!”

Walt Whitman


Chic, contemporary, and current, this 1964 World’s Fair souvenir is as polished and professional as the era it reflects. Interestingly, it’s up-to-the-minute for the time it portrays, whereas the 1939 World’s Fair dreamt of decades far into the future.



Note the fun, energetic graphics used to depict the Rockettes in the hankie above. By contrast, the Rockettes in the hankie below appear to be from the 1940s. This precision dance company has been a staple at Radio City Music Hall since 1932. NYNY_052




Often handkerchief featured a single subject, for example, Central Park


“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.”

Nora Ephron

The United Nations Headquarters



St. Patricks’ Cathedral, and Rockefeller Center

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Rockefeller Center

Another bird’s eye view hankie, this time depicting the Prometheus sculpture in the Center’s lower plaza, which is used for dining in summer, and ice skating in winter. Again, the style of the cars in the border is a tip-off as the the age of the handkerchief.



Although many consider Rockefeller Center to be the “30 Rock” building behind the statue of Prometheus, the center covers 22 acres between 48th and 51st Streets. This “city within a city” was constructed during the great depression, providing employment for over 40,000 people. A favorite meeting hub, the center became known for its television studios hosting everything from “The Today Show” to “Howdy Doody” to “Saturday Night Live.” In the 1970’s the AIA declared the Art Deco complex the second most significant piece of architecture in America (Thomas Jefferson’s U of Virginia ranked first.)


Historians claim the most photographed sculpture in NYC is Prometheus in the lower plaza of the Center. Prometheus was a Titan who stole fire from Mt. Olympus, gave it to mankind, (note the flame in his right hand), and taught him how to use it, (metalwork). He is thus associated with science and culture.




This hankie shows the plaza viewed from behind the famous statue.



Times Square

Originally called Long Acre Square, this location served as the site for William H. Vanderbilt’s American Horse Exchange. Once the rapid transit (IRT) was installed, 42nd St. became a transportation hub, and real estate speculators descended on the area, including Adolph Ochs, owner of the New York Times who built Times Tower there. Ochs also staged the first New Year’s Eve celebration there, which continues today. By WWI, most theatres had moved to Times Square, along with restaurants and hotels like the Astor and the Knickerbocker.



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The New York Times Building 1905 And Today


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This 1948 photo shows the Camel cigarette billboard (which actually “smoked”) mounted on the Hotel Claridge. The crowd on the right is entering Lowes Theater. Both buildings can be found in the handkerchief above.

The New York Times presented one point of view, the New York World often presented another. Published from 1860-1931, it fell under the leadership of Joseph Pulitzer from 1883-1911. With a circulation of 1,000,000+ it was often accused of sensationalism or “yellow journalism.”

This “Remember the Maine” hankie is an example of just such journalism, attempting to whip people into a frenzy. I find it Interesting they had handkerchiefs printed with this image. I wonder if it was a souvenir from a rally.



Certainly Pulitzer was adept at rallying the troops, as we discovered in the heartwarming story of how he was instrumental in raising the Statue of Liberty .

It’s impossible to describe the magic that is New York. You may glimpse and inkling of the diversity of the city and her people from the movies listed below. Additional New York handkerchiefs can be viewed at 1939 New York World’s Fair  and An Artist’s Impression of New York.

“More than anything else New York is a city of superlatives, a place where the best, the brightest, the biggest is the norm.”

Marilyn J. Appleberg


Just for Fun

From Wall Street to Mean Streets, The Godfather to Goodfellas, Midnight Cowboy to Miracle on 34th Street, Brighton Beach Memoirs to Bright Lights Big City, New York provides the quintessential backdrop to showcase the Story of Man. In 2015, Vanity Fair magazine chose the top 10 greatest movies about Manhattan, culled from their top 100. Indeed, what better way to portray this town than through her stories, captured in celluloid. Whether Breakfast at Tiffany’s ingénue or Taxi Driver tough guy, New York has a borough, a tribe, a society to suit your style.

Enjoy their Top Ten picks:



Strictly Dishonorable (1931) / John M. Stahl (stage play/Preston Sturges, screenplay Gladys Lehman)

Morning Glory (1933) / Lowell Sherman

42nd Street (1933) / Lloyd Bacon

King Kong (1933) / Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack

Dinner at Eight (1933) / George Cukor

Twentieth Century (1934) / Howard Hawks

The Thin Man (1934) / W. S. Van Dyke

My Man Godfrey (1936) / Gregory La Cava

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) / Frank Capra

Nothing Sacred (1937) / William A. Wellman

Stage Door (1937) / Gregory La Cava

Holiday (1938) / George Cukor

You Can’t Take It with You (1938) / Frank Capra

The Women (1939) / George CukorThe Roaring Twenties (1939) / Raoul Walsh


Christmas in July (1940) / Preston Sturges

Ziegfeld Girl (1941) / Robert Z. Leonard and Busby Berkeley

** Citizen Kane (1941) / Orson Welles (Key scenes take place out West and down South.)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) / Michael Curtiz

The Pride of the Yankees (1942) / Sam Wood

Laura (1944) / Otto Preminger

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) / George Seaton

The Big Clock (1948) / John Farrow

The Naked City (1948) / Jules Dassin

Rope (1948) / Alfred Hitchcock

The Heiress (1949) / William Wyler

On the Town (1949) / Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly


All About Eve (1950) / Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Executive Suite (1954) / Robert Wise

Rear Window (1954) / Alfred Hitchcock

Guys and Dolls (1955) / Joseph L. Mankiewic

Killer’s Kiss (1955) / Stanley Kubrick

The Seven Year Itch (1955) / Billy Wilder

Sweet Smell of Success (1957) / Alexander Mackendrick

The Best of Everything (1959) / Jean Negulesco

Pillow Talk (1959) / Michael Gordon


The Apartment (1960) / Billy Wilder

West Side Story (1961) / Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise

Lover Come Back (1961) / Delbert Mann

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) / Blake Edwards

The World of Henry Orient (1964) / George Roy Hill

The Pawnbroker (1964) / Sidney Lumet

The Group (1966) / Sidney Lumet

The Producers (1967) / Mel Brooks

Barefoot in the Park (1967) / Gene Saks

Valley of the Dolls (1967) / Mark Robson

The Odd Couple (1968) / Gene Saks

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) / Roman Polanski

Funny Girl (1968) / William Wyler

Midnight Cowboy (1969) / John Schlesinger


Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) / Ossie Davis

The French Connection (1971) / William Friedkin

Klute (1971) / Alan J. Pakula

Super Fly (1972) / Gordon Parks

The Seven-Ups (1973) / Philip D’Antoni

Serpico (1973) / Sidney Lumet

Mean Streets (1973) / Martin Scorsese

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) / Joseph Sargent

Taxi Driver (1976) / Martin Scorsese

Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976) / Paul Mazursky

** Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) / Richard Brooks (Shot in Chicago and L.A.)

Annie Hall (1977) / Woody Allen

The Goodbye Girl (1977) / Herbert Ross

The Turning Point (1977) / Herbert Ross

New York, New York (1977) / Martin Scorsese

An Unmarried Woman (1978) / Paul Mazursky

All That Jazz (1979) / Bob Fosse

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) / Robert Benton

Manhattan (1979) / Woody Allen


Fame (1980) / Alan Parker

My Dinner with Andre (1981) / Louis Malle

Arthur (1981) / Steve Gordon

Tootsie (1982) / Sydney Pollack

The King of Comedy (1982) / Martin Scorsese

The Cotton Club (1984) / Francis Ford Coppola

Ghostbusters (1984) / Ivan Reitman

Once upon a Time in America (1984) / Sergio Leone

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) / Susan Seidelman

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) / Woody Allen

Moonstruck (1987) / Norman Jewison

Wall Street (1987) / Oliver Stone

Big (1988) / Penny Marshall

Working Girl (1988) / Mike Nichols

Crossing Delancey (1988) / Joan Micklin Silver

When Harry Met Sally (1989) / Rob Reiner


Metropolitan (1990) / Whit Stillman

Home Alone 2 (1992) / Chris Columbus

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) / Woody Allen

The Last Days of Disco (1998) / Whit Stillman

You’ve Got Mail (1998) / Nora Ephron

Being John Malkovich (1999) / Spike Jonze

2000 to Today

American Psycho (2000) / Mary Harron

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) / Wes Anderson

Spider-Man (2002) / Sam Raimi

Elf (2003) / Jon Favreau

Inside Man (2006) / Spike Lee

Enchanted (2007) / Kevin Lima

American Gangster (2007) / Ridley Scott

Frances Ha (2012) / Noah Baumbach

The Avengers (2012) / Joss Whedon

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) / Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Birdman (2014) / Alejandro González Iñárritu

Best Outer-Borough Films

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) / Elia Kazan

On the Waterfront (1954) / Elia Kazan (Oops, ineligible. Takes place in Hoboken.)

Marty (1955) / Delbert Mann

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) / Sidney Lumet

Saturday Night Fever (1977) / John Badham

Raging Bull (1980) / Martin Scorsese

Do the Right Thing (1989) / Spike Lee

Goodfellas (1990) / Martin Scorsese



  1. 6-19-2016

    Being a “Native New Yorker” I really enjoyed this Blog – but then, I enjoy all your Blogs – thank you for sharing !!!

    • 6-20-2016

      Thank you. Much appreciated. 🙂

  2. 4-29-2017

    I was surprised to see a handkerchief on your page that I got on my first trip on New York in the 1960s. It is Times Square. I still have that handkerchief and always have a “hanky”in my purse

    • 5-2-2017

      How delightful. It’s always interesting to see what people save, and invariably it’s something that holds fond memories. I hope this sparked a jog down memory lane. And you’re a fellow hankie lover. We always find each other eventually. 🙂

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