Posts Tagged ‘Halloween in New York City’

The spooky spider web windows on 57th Street

September 30, 2022

The scary season is upon us, and Halloween-loving New York City residents are decorating their front stoops, windows, and terraces with witches, skeletons, and spider webs. But one East Side apartment building flaunts cast-iron spider webs across its front windows all year long.

The spider web windows are at 340 East 57th Street, a 16-story vision of prewar elegance between First and Second Avenues. Look closely at the service door above: this web has a black spider sitting in it, waiting and watching. It looks particularly Halloween-like with the orangey glow from the inside light.

The building’s architect, Rosario Candela, was one of the legendary designers of Manhattan’s most exclusive residences in the 1920s. I’ve posted about this building before, and I still don’t know if he had a hand in creating those spider web window guards.

If so, I appreciate Candela’s sense of spooky playfulness. Also playful but not quite spooky: the whimsical seahorse reliefs below the second-story windows.

What Halloween looked like in 1970s New York

October 15, 2018

If you were a kid in the New York City of the 1970s, Halloween probably resembled this.

Your mom or dad bought you your costume in a store, and it came with a mask held to your head by a rubber band.

Maybe you were the Bionic Woman, or a character from Planet of the Apes, or someone from Star Wars. Or you dressed up as a more classic Halloween character, like Batman or Cinderella or a witch or a skeleton.

You didn’t go to the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village because you had never heard of it. You went trick or treating in your building or on your block after school, and most likely, no adult went with you.

Afterward, your parents probably took some of your candy stash because they didn’t want you to go crazy and eat it all at once. But you did get to eat it, slowly, over the next week or two.

Even though this was the bad old New York of the 1970s, no one was too worried about Halloween candy contaminated with poison or razor blades.

If you were born too early or too late to experience Halloween 1970s style, you can get a sense of it through some wonderful photos taken that decade by street photographer Larry Racioppo.

Racioppo’s Halloween images are available for viewing via the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection. A few examples are in this post.

I’m not sure where we are in the city, though the photo at right shows a war memorial that appears to be put up by the 12th Street block association…though it’s hard to read.

These black and whites capture a moment in time when many parts of New York were rundown and neglected. But that couldn’t stop kids from savoring the thrill of dressing up on Halloween.

Racioppo’s work captures other scenes of New York, and he even put out a book of his Halloween photos in 1980, available on Amazon as well as through his own site.

All photos © Larry Racioppo

This little witch sends her Halloween greetings

October 28, 2016

She doesn’t seem very scary, and even the black cat looks like a softie. And wishing jolly good fortune?

jollyhalloweencardnypl

This early 20th century postcard doesn’t reflect the ghosts-and-goblins Halloween sensibility we’re used to today. No tricks, no treats, no costume, no spells.

But the church steeples make me think this little witch is flying her broom over Brooklyn’s starry skies (the city of churches, you know), making this an appropriate image for anyone ready to enjoy an urban Halloween.

[NYPL Digital Collection]

Central Park’s Halloween carnival, 1936

October 14, 2009

As advertised on this nifty poster, designed and printed by the Works Progress Administration. 

I couldn’t find anything on the skating carnival slated for October 31st. But a New York Times blurb that ran in the October 30th edition of the paper advertised a Halloween costume contest on the Mall, to be held that night.

Halloweenrollerskateposter

“Prizes will be awarded for the funniest boy’s costume, prettiest girl’s costume, most unusual costumes and the most appropriate costumes,” the item reads.

Strange that they don’t mention scariest costume. Sounds like the city was trying to provide some wholesome fun for kids who would otherwise be tempted to pull the usual pranks and mischief that make Halloween such a thrilling holiday when you’re young.