It was October 1998 when artist Jane Greengold conceived of a special use for the spiky fence guarding her home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. As she looked out over the enclosure where Kane Street and Strong Place intersect, it dawned on her: Why not adorn the fence with grinning, howling, shrieking pumpkins in the spirit of Halloween?
Together with the building’s owner, Chip Gray, Greengold impaled some 100 little pumpkins, carved to display a range of reactive facial expressions on each iron prong, and left them to rot away until Christmas. The dozens of decomposing mini jack-o-lanterns were a sight to behold around this stately home, and subsequently made 176 Kane Street one of Cobble Hill’s best-known residences.
Little did Greengold know at the time that she had inaugurated a two-decade Halloween tradition, by which she would continue to serve up a new batch of impaled pumpkins each year. After a three-year interlude following Greengold’s 2013 move to Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the community mobilized to reinstate the beloved ritual in 2017.
Greengold mounted a list of specific pumpkin-impaling instructions on the fence: Contributors were to carefully select pumpkins no larger than five inches in diameter, oblong in shape, and soft enough to cut into their bottoms. Participants came in droves between and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., as specified, for Greengold to exhibit their creations in front of her former home. She and Gray united forces to kickstart the event with 100 of their own carved pumpkins for old times’ sake.
A new record was set that year with 74 donated pumpkins, but Greengold’s pursuit is a pumpkin for each of the fence’s 274 spikes. She crept closer to her goal the following Halloween with a total of 244 pumpkins impaled in 2018. What’s left of the survivors are still withering on their posts.
Know Before You Go
In recent years, the pumpkins have been left to rot until around Easter. The best time to view the pumpkins is from Halloween night onward. The building is an active residence, so viewers should come respectfully.