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The Rarified Air of Rooftop Aeries

In a city where real estate is so dear and precious and open land is not to be had, the only way to go is up.  And up is the way it has been since 1852, when Elisha Otis invented the safety elevator, enabling and facilitating construction of our vertical city. From the New York Times:

Otis sold his first three elevators for $300 apiece and went on to the 1854 exposition at the Crystal Palace in Manhattan, where he demonstrated “the first elevator wherein provision was made for stopping the fall of the car in the contingency of the breaking of the hoisting cables.” In other words, if the cables snapped, the device would keep it from plunging.
Otis installed the first commercial passenger elevator in the five-story Haughwout Building at 488 Broadway, at Broome Street, in 1857. It was a steam-powered machine that took more than a minute to climb to the top floor.

And so, in a world dominated by smartphones where time is passed sitting, standing, or walking while looking down at a screen, to get a glimpse of another part of New York City life, it behooves one to look UP. Peeking above the roof lines, treetops can often be seen. And if you are fortunate, as I was, to be afforded a view of the city from above, you will be astonished to see a world of penthouses laden with all manner of gardens, trees, shrubs, patio furniture, and other accoutrement typically only seen in the countryside, but existing here in the rarified air of building tops. One or, at most, a handful of such penthouses exist in only some buildings, so this is a very privileged life.

In today’s bottom photo, one can see the home of Alec Baldwin – his 4137-square foot home at the Devonshire House in Greenwich Village, purchased in 2011 for $11.7 million dollars. Ironically, in spite of such spaces being so highly coveted and in such short supply, one rarely sees anyone using these spaces. Busy lives, other homes, and vacations. So little time to enjoy The Rarified Air of Rooftop Aeries :)

Related Posts: Affront to Dignity, Pied-a-Aire

4 Responses to The Rarified Air of Rooftop Aeries

  1. Wow, simply WOW. I’m drooling. I want the one at the top-it’s a forest!
    Well, at least I have a large back fire escape area where I can grow all sorts of greenery and various flowers…as I am assaulted by the deafening drone of air conditioning units, and the smells of frying meat and artificial sweeteners from the surrounding Chinese restaurants and bakeries…

    Thanks for showing us a little piece of Eden.

  2. jaime batista says:

    WOW!! Nice story Brian, makes this country boy sit back and take note of how lucky I am.. Blueberry bushes, juicy tomatoes, fresh parsley, chives, yummy garlic, egg-plant even raspberry bushes. All in my back yard that is shared with eighty foot tall pines, cedars and oaks – deer, foxes, bears and turkeys (for far less than Alec paid)..No Chinese food smell-just the clean smell of nature and the mowed lawn. Thanks for opening my eyes to all the things that I take for granted…Jaime

  3. Your post reminder me of a college professor and a course on environmental art/esthetics. Where most cities commercial remodelling took on “first floor vision” to attract the customer yet was totally in disregard of the upper floors of the building. Still a commom business district problem. But he always said to look up beyond the first floor to see the wonderful original building design and architectural features. I have been doing that ever since. Even for a boy raised in NYC where looking up at buildings normally pinpointed you as a tourist, for New Yorker’s never look up or be distracted as you’re bound to be hit by a cab or pickpocketed. Love this post and reminder of Prof Cowley.

  4. :-) oh! your photo booth site is great……
    Thanks for share……….Ez photobooths

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