Columbia University to Open a New Campus in West Harlem


Photo: Associated Press

Ivy League school will expand its grounds next spring as part of a $6.3 billion project

New York City, an ever-changing, growing and evolving city. I have loved living here and watching the growth and change that has occurred over the last couple of decades.

In an article taken from Crain’s New York, I learned of the recent plans for Columbia University to open a new campus in West Harlem. Personally, I am so excited for the new expansion as it will help to bring new life and business to the area, making it a more safe and desirable neighborhood.

Italian architect Renzo Piano was recently present to dedicate Columbia University’s new science center that is part of the school’s $6.3 billion West Harlem expansion.

“This is exactly the day I wanted for today: sunny, breezy, fresh, crisp,” he said, standing in front of the 450,000-square-foot Jerome L. Greene Science Center that replaces a defunct industrial site.

“Fresh air, that’s what we need,” he added.

The nine-floor edifice featuring exposed steel beams is part of Columbia’s upcoming $6.3 billion campus that will unfold in upper Manhattan over the next decades.

The former industrial area spans 17 acres.

Piano, of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, designed the master plan for the entire acreage.

The science building sits between the elevated No. 1 subway train track and the Hudson River. Among other research laboratories, it will house the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, named after the publisher. In addition, a community wellness center will link the Ivy League university with the neighborhood’s health issues.

Three other buildings will comprise the so-called Manhattanville Campus, named after the surrounding neighborhood. The Lenfest Center for the Arts will open next year, then the University Forum and Academic Conference Center in 2018, and finally the new home of the University’s Business School in 2021.

The landscaped grounds, still under construction, will be “woven into the existing street grid with no walls or gates.”

Judy Schiller announced “It Happened in Havana: A Yiddish Love Story…”

Judy Schiller announced that "It Happened in Havana: A Yiddish Love Story" documentary to air on THIRTEEN

New documentary about an elderly Jewish couple from Forest Hills who look back at their childhoods, their courtship and their life together

Judy Schiller, a close friend of mine, announced that “It Happened in Havana: A Yiddish Love Story,” a new documentary, will air Thursday, April 14th on THIRTEEN, New York’s public television station, at 10:30 PM ET, and it will be rebroadcast on Tuesday, April 19th at 4:30 AM ET.

“It Happened in Havana: A Yiddish Love Story” is a documentary about an elderly Jewish couple who look back at their childhoods on the Lower East Side of New York City and Eastern Europe, their courtship in Cuba, and their life together in New York. It features personal and archival photographs, poignant period footage and priceless home movies from the 1920’s through 1950’s.

The documentary is written, produced and directed by Judy Schiller. A native New Yorker, Schiller is a professional photographer, mainly working with musicians including Miles Davis. She began in film at Flying Dreams Productions and has worked at every major TV network in New York City. “It Happened in Havana: A Yiddish Love Story” is her directorial debut.

Schiller explains, “With Cuba so much in the news, the film is a timely one. It’s a personal story about my parents and the story of how they fell in love. It is equal parts romantic tale and history lesson.”

Click HERE to watch the trailer!

My BMW Ultimate Driving Experience

I love cars and have always loved driving them in beautiful places across the world.

I have previously driven the Amalfi Coast on Italy, the Pacific Coast highway in California, the road to Hana in Maui, and off-road in Oahu.

My love of cars and driving recently brought me to participate in the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience.

It was incredible! Here are some of the beautiful cars that have driven:

FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRenderjack d ryger

Also, here is a really cool video from my BMW experience:


Landmarks Around The World Honor Paris After Tragic Events

paris monuments

In lieu of my most recent post where I honored the memories of those lost in 9/11, I thought it was only fitting for my next post to honor those we lost in the recent tragedy in Paris. Above, you can see world landmarks lighting up in show of unity with France following the deadly atrocities. It is touching and remarkable to see the globe come together in dark times, and while we all wish that times like these didn’t happen in the first place, it is nice to see the outpouring of support that follows tragedies like this one.  

Never Forget: Remembering 9/11

Last week, on the 13th anniversary of the September 11 Attacks, I snapped a few pictures in New York. I felt compelled to share them here. Never forget.

9/11 Tribute of Light

The Annual Tribute of Light.

Empire State Building on 9/11

The Empire State Building was lit red, white and blue.

Memories: Remembering Joan Rivers

Exactly two weeks ago today, Joan Rivers passed away. Joan was a board member for God’s Love We Deliver, and upon her passing, we received a heartfelt notice from the organization’s President and CEO. The email made me  consider my own memories, and reflect on a great encounter I had with her:


I met Joan Rivers three years ago. Joan was a driving force in helping raise funds and promote God’s Love We Deliver. I was driving her friend’s Mercedes Benz. She was having dinner with Joan at Amaranth on East 62nd Street. After dinner, I offered to drive Joan home. She turned me down and said she would walk home with her friends. So, I was turned down by the legendary comedian. When I offered to drive her home for the second time, she said she would race me home. I drove the Mercedes around the block. And Guess what? The 78 year old woman won, and was in her house before I rounded the corner.

Joan, you meshuganah hundt, we will truly miss you!

En Blanc Dinner

At the end of Summer, I attended an awesome dinner party in New York’s Rockefeller Park. The event, En Blanc, began in Paris 25 years ago, and is celebrated in several cities all over the world. I had a great time! Below are just a handful of selected images from the event. Read more about it here.



Jack Ryger in White Suit

Jack Ryger at the En Blanc Dinner

Jack Ryger En Blanc from Jack Ryger on Vimeo.

Update to Mr. Di Napoli

I just wanted to provide an update concerning the legacy of Mr. Di Napoli. I wanted to let you all know that it was with pleasure that we made a donation in Mr. Di Napoli’s honor, to the  USDAN Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights, New York.

Remembering Mr. Di Napoli

When I was 17 years old, I drove my father’s van to visit some friends in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. I was supposed to go ice skating in Brooklyn with Mr. Di Napoli’s cousins. On my way back home to Far Rockaway, the van’s front right tire hit an obstruction in the road. I was travelling due North in the fast lane at approximately 65mph, on the New Jersey Turnpike close to New Brunswick, NJ. The van catapulted and somersaulted over the grassy divide and landed in the southbound fast lane. All of the van’s passenger side windows were blown out, and the car completely totaled. Luckily, I had my seatbelt on, and emerged dazed but unhurt. Even more miraculous, I did not hit another vehicle.

Too afraid to call my parents, I called numerous friends and relatives instead. Everyone I spoke to was either not home, did not understand the seriousness of the accident, or could not come and get me. With this, I called Mr. “D,” who calmly replied, “wait right there, I will come get you.” Mr. Di Napoli came all the way from Brooklyn to pick me up. When I arrived at his home, his mother met me with a plate of Italian sausage and peppers in addition to a shot of Amaretto (believe me, I needed that shot of amaretto!). It was the first time I had ever tasted amaretto – it was delicious, and just what I needed to calm my nerves.

The next morning, Mr. D drove me home. It was in front of Mr. D. that I rang the bell to my parent’s house, squirming around to hide behind his back. He told my father there had been an accident. My father pooh-poohed it. “Oh, a little accident,” he said, but when my father saw the van, he almost pulled out what was left on the sides of his bald palate. Upset he said, “I can buy another van, but I cannot have another son.”

This is one of the many wonderful memories that I will always treasure of someone who was as close to me as some of my relatives. With great affection, Mr. Anthony L. Di Napoli, “Mr. D.,” is remembered.


Mr. D passed away a year ago at the age of 73. Here is something I wrote taken from the Friends of Rockaway page in his memory.

I am very sad to report that Mr. Anthony L. Di Napoli  (Mr. “D”)  passed away a few months ago. He was the school’s music teacher, chorus director, and retired Dean of the school. For those of you who did not know Mr.”D” you may have seen the movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” with Richard Dreyfuss. If you gave that movie an Italian twist, you would have a glimpse of the personality and character of Mr. “D.”  He conducted the Junior High School  (JHS 180) chorus of over 200 kids for many years. The chorus was all inclusive especially for those who had limited musical abilities. You made a commitment to be at the school at 8:00 a.m. sharp twice a week. Sopranos on Monday, Altos on Tuesday, Tenors on Wednesday, Basses on Thursday, and the entire chorus on Friday. In the 1970s, the chorus was chosen by the New York City Board of Education over every High School chorus as the only four-part chorus to perform at Lincoln Center.

Mr. “D” was well respected by his peers, students, and parents. When the music program was eliminated due to budget cuts, he became Dean of the school. When one of the kids got into trouble he was sent to Mr. “D.” The office called the student’s mother to come to the school. The kid was very smug and waited patiently for his mother to arrive. When his mother came to the office, she started to hug Mr. “D.” The kid was completely bewildered and started to tell his mother what “supposedly occurred.” What her son did not know was that his mother was in the chorus many years ago and was a student in the music class. She told her son to “shut up” and Mr.”D” told her what happened. When her son tried to interrupt Mr. Di Napoli, she grabbed her son and started to smack him. “If Mr. “D” said you did that, that’s all I need to know.”

When my daughter was little, we were at home watching a movie. In the middle of the movie, I heard a familiar refrain,  and startled her by bursting into a full throated version of “Every Time I Feel The Spirit,” the closing song of every choral performance. Mr. “D” touched hundreds of students and left a legacy of accomplishment in all of us.

Jack Ryger