People who don’t live in New York City might wonder how – or even if – NYC children trick or treat. They definitely do; many larger buildings keep a list of people willing to accept trick or treaters, and residents of the building can pick up a list on October 31 so that they and their children don’t knock on the doors of too many empty apartments. In my experience, you can end up with a prodigious amount of candy (and the occasional healthy treat) in a large apartment building – even better if you pair with another family in another building and maximize possibilities in both places. (Insider tip: take the elevator to the top floor and use the stairs to walk down, if you are able – the elevators become very busy on Halloween night.) However, there are places in the city where you can trick or treat in a very traditional, door-to-door manner – primarily the townhouse blocks on the Upper East and Upper West Sides of Manhattan, or Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, Astoria in Queens, etc. In addition, some of these houses go so all-out on decorating that they make the few weeks leading up to Halloween a “treat” to walk past. This October I made a point of stopping to take photos of houses I happened to pass while walking around the Upper East Side. I will start with a few sedately decorated examples, and progress to the truly terrifying. Perhaps one aspect of the legendary toughness of a native New Yorker is having to pass the gauntlet of horror at some of these homes to score a Reese’s Pumpkin!
This building is keeping it classy. A seasonal display of pumpkins brightens the foyer.
Friendly jack-o-lanterns accentuate this private garden.
These two townhouses have picked up the fright factor a bit without going too far – a few fluttering ghosts and a welcoming row of skulls let you know this is probably a good place to trick or treat.
If this one was closer to the door, its scare factor would go up, but as is, it decorates the house nicely without being too terrifying. I like how the ghoul is holding a pumpkin.
This is a selection of decorations that I find to be fairly typical of what you see this time of year, some scary touches and nice additions to any city stroll.
Two views of this townhouse – I love the white pumpkins, ghosts, and seasonal plants leading to a giant inflatable (but not too scary) Pumpkin King.
Even though this is a skeleton, the presence of his skeleton doggies brightens up the scene, in my opinion. I really enjoyed this one.
Similarly, these skeletons have a jaunty, Pirates of the Caribbean vibe . . .
I noticed a theme this year of many townhouses covered with spider webs, often along with the spiders and sometimes also other frightening figures.
Now we are progressing to a higher scare factor: this Dracula actually emerges and returns to his coffin on regular intervals. Note that trick-or-treaters would need to walk right past this to ring the doorbell!
This townhouse really followed through on its zombie theme.
The suit of armor is a unique touch, and pretty creepy.
Not much to say – these are just disturbing.
This house wins the prize for most terrifying decoration that I happened to pass by this year. I would find it difficult to approach these figures in broad daylight, and can only imagine what it would be like to pass them on Halloween night to ring the doorbell!
On Halloween night, many of these homes will open their doors to reveal mini-haunted houses, and often the residents also dress up. My most vivid Halloween memory as a child is of approaching a house, and being absolutely terrified of the zombie who answered the door. When I ran away rather than take candy, he ran after me offering a bowl of treats – but to my terrified mind, he was simply chasing me! Ah, the joy of being scared, as long as ultimately it is in a safe setting. New York City is such a wonderful place to live, and the dedicated and fortunate owners of these townhouses enrich it with their decorations. There are many advantages to living in a townhouse – outdoor space, not sharing walls or floors/ceilings with neighbors, abundant space – but the ability to express yourself to the community through your decoration is certainly a plus for many.