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Photos of ’70s Halloween Trick-or-Treaters That Will Melt Your Cold Heart

Larry Racioppo photographed Halloween in Brooklyn for years, capturing classic costumes from Star Wars characters to the Bride of Frankenstein.

Posted on October 30, 2021, at 2:42 p.m. ET

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"Skeleton and Ape"

Larry Racioppo is from Brooklyn, but he means old Brooklyn — back when it was just “Red Hook and South Brooklyn and nothing else.” The self-described "ancient" photographer grew up in a family of longshoremen in Sunset Park in the 1950s and ’60s and moved to an apartment in Park Slope in 1973 that cost $125. “I could drive a cab two days a week to cover rent, and the rest of the time I practiced photography,” Racioppo said.

In those days, he photographed all over Brooklyn, but he realized that he loved photographing his neighborhood on Halloween especially. “Back then, trick-or-treating meant egging houses, or spraying people with shaving cream, or filling long socks with colored chalk and whacking people with them,” he said. “But I liked the pictures so much, I went back the next year and the next. I decided to make an art book.”

Racioppo’s 1980 book, Halloween, and the collection of about 100 photos were eventually donated to the New York Public Library’s photo collection. “I loved photographing kids, and I still love photographing kids,” Racioppo said. “Kids are so open. As people get older, we get more closed, more suspicious, more worried. Kids on the street played some of the same games I played as a kid: stickball and racing in the street. So it was easy then to talk to them about it and take a photo.”

These photos are a journey back in time, to The Bionic Woman and Star Wars, before Elsa and Shrek, and before you could readily expect a giant candy bar behind every door. Giant warehouse parties weren’t the norm, but you still can’t beat these ghost costumes.

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"Superman"

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

Left: "Pussycat and Friends." Right: "Masked Cowboy."

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"Girl With Wings"

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library
Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

Left: "The Ghost." Right: "Twenty-First Street Devil."

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"Bride of Frankenstein"

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"The Bionic Woman, Bambi, and Cinderella"

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

Left: "Witch With Broom." Right: "Rubber Devil."

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"Frankenstein and Friend"

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"Three Boys With Tear Makeup"

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

Left: "Cinderella and Sister." Right: "C3PO."

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"The Tin Man"

Larry Racioppo, via the New York Public Library

"Group of Trick-or-Treaters"





A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.