Could You Be Fined for Hanging Illuminated Halloween Décor?

Potentially, yes. If you live in certain areas of New York City, you may be fined if you hang illuminated Halloween signs on your property that are higher than 40 feet above curb level. This is based on a ruling last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which affirmed a decision from Judge Jed Rakoff in the Southern District of New York – namely that a Manhattan resident’s first amendment rights were not violated when she was fined $800 for not abiding by New York City’s zoning regulations.

Political and holiday signs are typically temporary, so usually the City will look the other way – unless you live in a neighborhood of one- and two-family homes. This woman hung an illuminated peace sign in her apartment window at the Ansonia, on Broadway between 73rd and 74th Streets.  While I am not sure why the Department of Buildings singled out this apartment –  it could have been the year and a half that she had hung her peace sign – I don’t think the DOB would pursue residents who hang holiday décor for a short period of time.

What’s Your Sign?


Photograph A (green standard)


Currently in New York City, there are approximately 250,000 street name signs.  Most have white text on green backgrounds and are otherwise uniformly designed (see Photograph A).  But, have you noticed that there are numerous variations in NYC’s street name signs?  Some signs, for example, have brown backgrounds; others blue; and yet others black.  Some signs are illuminated and some contain images.  Other variations in signage concern capitalization and font style.  If you have noticed these variations, have you also wondered about the meaning behind them?

This piece discusses the regulations behind the design of NYC’s street name signs, and among other things, why many of the street name signs in use today will be replaced over the next several years.

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