Monday, October 31, 2011

City Views, Country Dreams

It's now Halloween evening in New York, and I would like to share some photos I took this afternoon on West 69th Street, where October 31 is always a very special day and night.

West 69th Street is a tree-lined street dominated by classic brownstone houses.  There are a few larger buildings, and even an Episcopal church on this street.  There are no tall buildings.  It is a street that has a quiet intimacy, from which residents have drawn to create an October wonderland for neighborhood children.

The decorations and open houses are a collaborative effort.

Try to ignore the garbage receptacles in the background and enjoy these three witches at work stirring their cauldron.

Cobwebby effects pervade the street.  Do you spot the bat in the web, do you see the Eye on the window shade?  Do you remember seeing it in a photo last year?  That eye becomes very scary after dark.

Would you want to enter this doorway, even for a treat?  You would have to pass below the witch and a collection of flying bats.  Just asking.

Art history students are not ignored on this street.  Is the frame perfect?

Please do not think that the organic side of Halloween is ignored on West 69 Street.  That roped canvas in the upper left of the photo is part of a pirate ship that will be revealed after sundown.

The neighbors are so friendly, always waving a howdy!

Well, here's that welcoming witch again.  does she look more friendly from a side view?

Parking is always a challenge in New York, no matter what sort of vehicle is used.

Well, I think if you had the courage to enter the house guarded by that flying witch, I will give you another test.  Mind the bat.

Sweet dreams to you all.  I have a bowl full of candy, hoping that there might be some trick or treating children in this building who might trade a view of their costume for a bit of chocolate.  Not sure that anyone will ring the doorbell.

It's now eight pm and the adults are taking over the celebrations.  There's a crazy Halloween parade just beginning downtown.


  1. What a sophisticated take on all things Halloween! Are the costumes similarly imaginative?
    (And there's another knock at the door here.... a couple of stylish little witches, a princess, and a very small Spiderman )
    Happy Hallowe'en!

  2. How lovely!

    We don't really celebrate Halloween so much here, we usually push the boat out on Bonfire Night!

    But I did see something very similar while I was in Haworth the other day, the pictures are on my blog. They have a very "spooky Haworthe'en" weekend with all kinds of fun things going on and all the proceeds go to local charities. Great idea!

  3. Aren't they fabulous! I especially love the purple witches!

  4. Your Halloween photographs show so many creative interpretations, each one would not look out of place in an art gallery. I can't say we have ever had such inventiveness here but Halloween is catching on more and more, so much so that we ran out of treats last night.

    I hope you have avoided the terrible snowstorms we have been seeing on the news.

  5. All this creativity is wonderful to see, and such fun. I love the friendly waving skeleton and the broomstick 'parking'!
    My lovely American neighbours in England put on a fantastic display for Halloween that I always look forward to seeing, and we do get a lot of trick or treaters. Last night I was bitterly disappointed to have missed it all, having had to work late and then having tube delays ... grrr ... I do love being able to greet the neighbourhood kids in my garish glow-in-the-dark skeleton t-shirt and pumpkin glasses. Luckily my daughter was available to dish out the sweets.
    How extraordinary your snow storm experience was - you've really had your share of extreme weather this year in New York. I wish you a not too extreme few months ahead and hope you can get to see the Freud exhibition!

  6. Amazing how all-how New York goes over this holiday.
    I was out on Madison Ave and the outfits were worthy of Bergdorf's windows. 78th street was closed off for a public soiree with similar scary tableaux.
    Did they do the same in Paris?
    At last we do something right.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing these amazingly creative Halloween images. They are certainly spooky...It's such an exciting time for young children to dress up and go trick or treating. It happens more now over here in the UK, but we can't match the US yet for celebrating Halloween in a big way! Hope you had a Happy Halloween, and have a happy week ahead.
    Helen x

  8. It's getting to be such a big holiday --rivaling Christmas in the decorations.
    I really find it lots of fun.
    You have a wonderful eye for all the sights!

  9. Wow, I'm always amazed how Americans go to town over this most pagan of festivals... the inventiveness is incredible... I had a quiet night with my trick or treaters at my door ( so I had to eat all the toffees today!). Did any come to yours?xxx

  10. How inventive you New Yorkers are.

    our young neighbour carved a pumpkin but that was the extent our local activities.

    Can hardly the believe the tales of east coast snow. Soooo early! Keep warm.

  11. Wonderful! And fascinating. It just demonstrates how well you Americans do these sort of things. There is so much brilliant workmanship going on, and so much thought put into it all, it's spectacular. Thank you for taking the time to take the photos and show them to us Frances, I imagine that they are even more spectacular when lit up at night. Wonderful, wish I was in New York. Vanessa xxx

  12. Hello Frances,
    Hope you had a good Halloween and slept well after all the spooky goings on in your part of the world, your photographs gave us a taste of the fun decorations.
    I heard about your strange weather. it made the news here. I am sure you all must have been amazed at this sight. It is certainly time for warm scarves and jackets. Of course we have just changed the clocks and it is dark so early and it is nice to just keep close to the fire.
    Good time to get knitting the socks, with two lots of wool I bought last year.
    Thank you for your regular comments, always lovely to find you have visited. Glad to hear the paintbrushes have had some use, a thoughtful gift for your friend. I expect there will be some very lovely craft projects going on in your free time, looking forward to seeing your crochet and knitting.
    Best wishes. Millyx

  13. So very much more imaginative and sophisticated than the Helloween celebrations that we saw in UK, where costumes are tacky and unpleasant.

  14. Frances, what a beautiful set of spooky photographs! I am reminded that I too shall soon be a skeleton, though I'm not sure where the witches come in - or the bats. Will I rise out of my grave as a witch? - if so who will teach me how to fly on a broomstick? Indeed who will provide the broomstick and the pointy hat? Or are these made from pumpkins? Via a kind of spell? And if so do you need a cauldron and the minor parts of bats to make them?

    Life, even in New York, is so complicated when you ask these questions and empty if you don't. Which reminds me that I am off to see Woody Allen's latest creation 'Midnight in Paris' very soon. He would, I'm sure, be able to answer my inquiries. Do your paths ever cross? Does he come into your shop at all? You could always pretend to be a dentist who opened only on Sunday, for I gather he is constantly looking for one. If so perhaps you could relay a question or two on my behalf.

  15. Really enjoyed this my friend; Hallow'een was very quiet here, partly due to weather, but these pics are amazing! Going back for a second look. Have replied to your e-mail!

  16. They are the best Halloween decorations I've seen, inspiring too. Thanks for capturing them for us.

  17. Hi Frances,
    You Americans certainly know how to celebrate Halloween!
    What fantastic street decorations, well made and sophisticated.
    Wonderful stuff.
    All the best,
    xoxo Ingrid

  18. So delightful, as always, Frances.

    And this may help in the event that any of the characters in the pictures cause you problems:
    From ghoulies and ghosties
    And long-leggedy beasties
    And things that go bump in the night,
    Good Lord, deliver us.

  19. I'm a bit late but happy halloween to you too Frances. We had record numbers of trick or treaters this year... all in wonderful costumes

  20. What a great display, Frances. The neighbourhood goes all out - lucky children (of all ages!)
    I hope that the chocolate you bought was a sort that appeals to your taste buds, as it sounds as though you'll be the one left holding the candy bag!

  21. America always knows how to do a celebration, and if you want to see it celebrated at its best, go no further than NYC. What brilliant images, Frances. Just love it x

  22. What an amazing street! And it must be rather spooky after dark . . .

    Pomona x

  23. Dear Frances,
    Halloween is one of the days that I most miss being in the U.S. It is difficult to explain to my English friends why we (my children and I) love it so. Even though we always have a party, and decorate the house, there is never quite the same spirit as when it is a community project. I've enjoyed living vicariously through your pictures.

    Thanks so much, too, for your recent visits to my blog and your thoughtful comments.

  24. Oh, c'est effrayant! Poor Joconde!

  25. What an amazing display! Wow!


  26. I think I recall seeing some of these displays when we were walking on W 69th Street – they had some early ones. Those decorations look so much better on brownstone buildings – really spooky.

    I love that you wrote “mind the bat” – when I was in London Underground with younger daughter she was pleased to hear “mind the gap” before hopping on the train. She had thought before that it was a Gap Store phrase thought of by a PR person – she even bought a mug with Mind the Gap on it. Mind the Bat is perfect for Halloween!

  27. Great pics. We don't see much Halloween excitement here in Australia.
    I would love to visit New York. My friends love it.
    Have a nice weekend.

  28. Hi Francis
    sorry to take so long replying to your comment. Yes I am with you, I adore Persephone Press, some real gems are to be found. Unfortunately our little village library is suffering from real cutbacks and it is more and more difficult to get hold of the books I want to read.
    I am ashamed to say I haven't even heard of Helen Hull's Heat Lightning. Oh Dear, another to put on the list. I am currently reading Ring of Bright Water, by Gavin Maxwell. First published in 1960, it's all about living on the West Coast of Scotland. A wonderful book.
    love Lampie