12 Halloween photos that show how the holiday has changed in America over the last 100 years

Halloween has an extensive history, dating back to Celtic rituals 2,000 years ago.

In the US, the holiday fuels an entire industry, with millions of Americans spending billions on Halloween costumes each year, according to the National Retail Foundation. Before the 1920s, Halloween costumes were more commonly handmade, and were simpler and more terrifying.

But over the course of American history, Halloween costumes have become more complex, interesting, and (in some cases) tawdry.

Take a look to see how Halloween costumes have changed over the course of the last century.


In the 1910s, before the mass-production of Halloween costumes, people relied on handmade masks. In many ways, the imperfections made them creepier.

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A Halloween photo from a 3×4 inch celluloid negative. The image was taken on a farm in Camp Dix, New Jersey sometime between 1914-1918.
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Rich701/Flickr

This photo shows three female students headed to a costume party in the Lakewood, New Jersey area in the late 1910s.

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This photo, a 3×4 inch celluloid negative, comes from a collection of 300 negatives from an unknown New Jersey photographer. It was taken between 1914-18.
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Rich701/Flickr

The practice of bobbing for apples also dates back to Celtic practices. It’s remained popular throughout American history, as you can see in this Halloween photo from 1943.

Source: History.com


Superheroes have become popular costumes over the years. Here a young man in parades through Central Park in a Spider-Man costume. The image was taken in 1966, four years after the character was introduced.

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Youngsters parade through Central Park in New York dressed in their costumes on Oct. 30, 1966. Some 20,000 kids attended the party in the Park.
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Jacob Harris/AP


Face paint has also been a popular component of Halloween costumes for many years. This 1966 image shows many kids with colorful faces.


In 1973, TV networks embraced traditional Halloween characters. Cher, along with Jerry Lewis, Sonny Bono and a group of actors are cast here as Frankenstein’s Bride, a mad scientist, Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, a wolf-man, and more.

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Many monsters invented by the movie industry were depicted by Sonny Bono, Cher and their guest star, Jerry Lewis, for their CBS television show on Friday, Oct. 4, 1973.
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David F. Smith/AP

Halloween costumes have continued to get more elaborate. Here, in 1978 in New York, a man is painted as a pharaoh.

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Bug-eyed monsters from outer space and pharaohs from ancient Egypt vied for attention at the Halloween party at New York’s Studio 54 on October 31,1978.
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Richard Drew/AP


As a night of debauchery, Halloween has lent itself to crime, too. Over 100,000 people attended a 1997 Halloween celebration in San Francisco, where five people were arrested for robbery and drunkenness.


New York City’s popular Village Halloween Parade started in 1974. It still attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees. Parades are popular across the country — here, a Mardi Gras-like crowd floods the streets of Key West, Florida in 1995.

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A float portraying Count Dracula rolls down Duval Street on October 28, 1995. Key West’s 17th Fantasy Fest celebration featured masquerade balls and costume competitions. The tradition is sometimes compared with New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival.
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Stringer/Reuters

Nowadays, you can find sexy Halloween versions of many characters. The trend isn’t new, however — according to Slate, revealing Halloween costumes have been popular since the 1970s.

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Shutterstock

Source: Slate


Our love of dressing up hasn’t changed much, however. Many Halloween celebrations even come with specific themes — here, New Yorkers dressed up for a Dia de los Muertos Halloween party in 2014.

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Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Timely costumes abound every Halloween, featuring current figures in news, memes and popular culture. Tonight, you’ll likely see many Donald Trumps, Beyonces, Star Wars characters, and references to the Netflix series Stranger Things.

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Donald Trump Zombie acknowledges supporters during the annual Zombie Walk in Silver Spring, Maryland on October 29, 2016.
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Gary Cameron/Reuters