Fact Check

New York City Buildings Lit Up for Easter

Three buildings in New York used their window lights to create crosses for Easter in 1956.

Published Nov. 23, 2015

A photograph shows three buildings in New York decorated with window crosses for Easter in 1956.

An photograph of buildings in the New York skyline illuminating their windows with crosses for Easter has gone through several cycles of viral popularity over the years and is usually posted along with a claim that such a display would not be allowed in modern times:

crosses on skyline

The image is real and was taken shortly before Easter in 1956. One newspaper, the Oxnard Press-Courier, published the photo on 31 March 1956 with the following caption:

crosses newspaper

Huge crosses, formed by lighted windows, blaze above New York’s skyline as part of an Easter display in Manhattan’s financial district. This scene, photographed from the roof of the Municipal Building, features 150-foot-high crosses in the City Services Co., City Bank   Farmers Trust Co., and the Forty Wall Street Corp. buildings. (United Press Telephoto)

As for the claim that this form of light display would cause an uproar today, it should be noted that Oklahoma City used building windows to depict crosses during the holidays as recently as 2010:

okc light display

The Empire State Building also displays festive lights during religious holidays (red, green and white for Christmas, pastal fades for Easter, blue and white for Chanukah) and Chicago's Daley Plaza has featured a Nativity Scene since 1984.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.