Chicago Halloween
Photograph: chattingjason (CC by 2.0)

Used to be, way back in 1895, Halloween was a wholesome holiday. Boys and girls celebrated in one way, older people in another, and young women went in search of a mate.

Then something—perhaps America?—changed.

Not the streets of today, mobbed with zombies, sexy zombies, and drunk zombies. I mean the turn of the century. If you think Halloween in Chicago is decadent now, count your blessings.

1901: "Two women, who said they were actresses, were arrested on State street, near Harrison, while masquarading in male attire. They were taken to the Harrison Street Police Station, and, after being questioned by Lieutenant Golden, were allowed to go. The women were attired in military uniforms."

1902: "A pea from his blower struck the eye of John Paul, motorman on a Fulton street electric car just as the car was passing Franklin street, and Paul, smarting under the pain, clapped his hands to his face. It was only for an instant that he neglected the controller and the brake, but in that time the car crashed into the Larrabee street station patrol wagon that was conveying to patients to the Washintonian home."

1903: "Halloween brought woe to numerous young persons in the city whose vigorous celebration of the event did not accord with the notion of the police…. Pedestrians and street car passengers equally suffered in West Madison street. Those who escaped contact with "soot bags," containing a mixture of lampblack and soot, were targets for peas and other missiles shot from blowpipes."

Chicago halloween northwestern

1907: "If there had been a sorority pillow at stake for the biggest piece of Halloween marauding F.J. Steinhilber, a Northwestern university student, and the roystering gang he led in the north shore city undoubtedly would have won it…. The gang of students he led invaded the dormitory occupied by theological students, carried out eight of them, and ducked them head first in the lake."

Halloween Chicago

1911: "One hundred wild and uncurried students of Northwestern University… left Evanston and a path of ruin in their trail."