Jane Greengold and the Impaled Pumpkins of Kane Street – Brooklyn
Halloween is a tradition in Cobble Hill, and Jane’s 274 spike fence is a tradition at the neighborhood.
It was October 1998 when artist and public interest lawyer Jane Greengold though 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?
“I’m not a violent person,” said Jane, “but when I saw this fence, I thought you could impale heads on it.” In 1998, she began impaling carved pumpkins instead.
So, togheter with her friend (and building’s owner), Chip Gray, she 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 and popular ritual in 2017.
Jane 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 Chip 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.
In recent years, the pumpkins have been left to rot until around Easter, when they get really, really, really rotten, and, according to the artist, they seem more human as they rot!
Photos from web