73 years ago, the Di Costanzo family hosted an epic New Year’s Eve throw down at their restaurant on Mulberry Street in New York City.
The venue? Marconi’s restaurant, in Little Italy, which the Di Costanzo family owned and operated.
There was drinking, eating, dancing, celebrating, … and more drinking.
These incredible images — featured in Yale University’s incredible archive of (largely rarely-seen) photos taken by New Deal photographers in the ’30s and ’40s — are a fascinating window into how New Year’s was celebrated over seven decades ago, at least by one New York family.
The drink selection might have been a bit more limited, and rogue castanet dancers were probably a little more likely to show up back then, but otherwise — if the photos are to be believed — not much has changed.
1. Mrs. Di Costanzo helps her chef cut bread for the party.
Anyone else suddenly hungry?
2. Chef’s got something going in the frying pan too…
Is it lunchtime? Dinnertime? My goodness, just please say it’s time to eat.
3. …while simultaneously assembling two giant sausage-and-peppers subs.
This guy is my hero.
4. Mr. and Mrs. Di Costanzo toast the new year at the bar.
5. While the couple toast, the man sitting next to them is entranced by … something off camera.
“Hold on a sec. This play is really important for my fantasy team.”
6. Even though there are a few customers in the restaurant, the family gathers around a big table in the back to celebrate.
Not with the family at the table is the Di Costanzo’s son. Like many young men at the time — and many American men and women now — he was serving in the military and away from family, possibly overseas. There’s a picture of him on the wall to the left, under the small American flag.
7. Another toast, this time with the whole gang!
Once more, with feeling!
8. At the bar, the Di Costanzo daughters (presumably) discuss serious family matters.
“Can you believe cousin Dot is 20 years old and still not married.”
“Cousin Dot doesn’t have to conform to the rigid patriarchal expectations society imposes on young women!”
“Yes she does. It’s the ’40s.”
“Oh, good point.”
9. But ultimately, even they just want to drink.
In all of recorded history, there was never a family more serious about its toasting.
10. Oh, and there was dancing.
This woman came in to grab some food and just decided to start dancing. She’s absolutely crushing it with those castanets.
11. And more dancing!
The kid up front is clearly feeling some feelings.
12. Mama looks pleased at the end of the night
She just threw a hell of a party and she clearly knows it. She’s earned every sip of that Chianti.
13. The next morning, children blow horns on top of a giant dirt pile on nearby Bleecker Street to ring in the new year.
Can we please get this in Times Square this year? I’m looking at you, CNN.
If anyone has a line on where I can get one of those seven-decade-old hoagies, please let me know.