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