Tag Archives: rooftops

From Tar Beach to Green Roofs

Rooftops were part of the everyday life of tenement dwellers of New York City.  For those tenants who lived on the upper floors of a tenement, rooftops were as important as the sidewalks and the streets below.  Summer heat added high temperatures to the tight living in tenement apartments.  The rooftops became a respite after the sun went down.  Blankets and newspapers on rooftops provided places to sit and enjoy the early evening breezes.  During Spring, Summer, and Fall the rooftop played its role as a place for drying the laundry or for the newborn’s bassinet.  For those who could find the time, the rooftop, or tar beach as it became known, provided the place for a summer tan.    The rooftop also provided the space for tenant gatherings for conversation and partying.

Photo of Richard and his father and baby sister, Erna, on the tar roof of their tenement building

Richard, his father, and baby sister, Erna, on the tar roof of their tenement in 1934.

Time has changed the function of New York rooftops.  Urban growth, high-rise architecture and a diet conscious populace have provoked the greening of New York rooftops.   Urban agriculture and gardening  have changed the scenery of the roofs of New York.  A more imaginative and civic-minded generation have created a multitude of happier uses for  older structures.

Photo of roof garden in Manhattan

Photo of roof garden in Manhattan from The Daily Mail Reporter.

The High Line on Manhattan’s West Side has opened the door to developing a refreshing approach to the use of an abandoned railway line.

High Line on West Side

High Line Park on Manhattan's West Side.

The photos above are from an article  in The Daily Mail Reporter about green roofs in Manhattan: Green Roofs.