This 1916 Halloween party photo is truly scary

When was the last time you went to a Halloween party and saw someone dressed up in a costume that was actually terrifying?

The people posing in this photo, from a Halloween party in 1916 New York, are giving me nightmares. The masks are spooky; the makeup creepy. And that poor cat!

The caption of the photo gives a tiny bit of info: “Unidentified group of people in Halloween costumes, October 31, 1916. Photographed for Mrs. Reiser.” Who Mrs. Reiser is remains a mystery…perhaps she’s the one who gathered these scary people for a party!

[Photo: New-York Historical Society via Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York]

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8 Responses to “This 1916 Halloween party photo is truly scary”

  1. Shayne Davidson Says:

    Fantastic photo!

  2. Kenny Says:


  3. Kevin Says:

    What is the piece of furniture on the right with the foot pedals? An organ?

  4. Bob Says:

    NYHS has several photos of Mrs. Louise Reiser taken by William Davis Hassler, probably a family friend.

    See also: Studio portrait of Mrs. Reiser in hat and fur-trimmed coat, February 13,1915. | Digital Culture

    “William Davis Hassler (1877-1921) was born in Cochranton and raised in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He moved to New York City with his wife in 1905. There he worked first in business management before embarking in 1909 on a career as a commercial photographer that lasted until his early death in 1921. Hassler shot a wide range of subjects for a variety of clients, from magazines to construction companies, postal card publishers, and private commissions. Regular work came from the real estate auction house Joseph P. Day, for whom Hassler documented properties all over the five boroughs of New York City as well as Westchester County, Long Island, and New Jersey; and from the United Electric Light & Power Company, who he provided with images of power plants, illuminated signs, and product shots of electrical appliances of all kinds. Hassler was also an avid photographer of his family and friends, including his sister Harriet E. Hassler, who was head of the children’s department of the Queens Borough Public Library, his wife Ethel Magaw Hassler, and his son William Gray Hassler. Hassler resided at 150 Vermilyea Avenue, apartment 44, in Inwood.”

  5. Paul N Bassett Says:

    Yes, it’s a pump organ, pump those pedals to move the bellows, air passes over reeds, kind of like a big harmonica. Also called harmonium.

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