The World's Greatest Costume Party

Lucas Reilly

‘Tis the season for costume parties! In January 1931, America’s most prominent architects threw a bash so wild it would have made Jay Gatsby blush. For the hoity-toity Beaux-Arts Ball, at least 24 architects dressed up as buildings they had designed. Here, seven of them pose as the NYC skyline.

Although it was the thick of the Great Depression, the party was packed. Tickets cost $15—about $230 in today’s money—and it featured a ridiculous orchestra of ocean liner whistles, steam pipes, and sledgehammers. In 2006, the New York Times called it “one of the most spectacular parties of the last century.”

From left to right, the architects are A. Stewart Walker (as the Fuller Building), Leonard Schultze (as the Waldorf-Astoria), E. J. Kahn (as the Squibb Building), William Van Alen (as the Chrysler Building), Ralph Walker (as 1 Wall Street), D. E. Ward (as the Metropolitan Tower), and Joseph J. Freedlander (as the Museum of the City of New York).

Special mention goes out to Arthur Arwine, who dressed up as a low-pressure heating boiler. Check out a vintage video here!