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March 26, 2009 / JV

Stuff White People Like: Rooftop Access


This may be a new york thing (not sure how rooftops work in other big cities), but you know one thing white people love? Rooftop access. And maybe it’s a hip people thing — to really get excited about having access to the roof of your apartment building, usually because you live on the top floor — but those folks i know that really get a kick, most of them are white.

At the first site of spring, or any amount of relative warmth (above 20 degrees), whitefolk will set off alarms and climb up the sides of buildings to get to the roof. And i’m not talking about roofs that are made to be sat on. You know, the ones with tables and chairs and wood. Like this:


Nope. I’m mostly talking about those rooftops that are a little less user-friendly. You know the ones that have nothing around the edges to differentiate between where the roof ends and the sky starts? They’re usually metallic — probably to burn to ashes whoever tries to “chill” up there on a sunny day — and when you walk on them you kind of feel like you’re walking on a wet tempur-pedic mattress. Something akin to this:


Now, thinking critically, one could say this has class connotations. Which neighborhoods have user-friendly roofs, and who is allowed to enjoy sitting on them? But while a certain kind of person may be more likely to live in the Chelsea apartment with the roof deck, white people are increasingly present in neighborhoods with ‘industrial rooftops’. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to sit on a roof, I just wonder what the big deal is. Perhaps it feels like some kind of reprieve from the craziness of the city, to hang out up high and contemplate how deep life is while looking out onto the world (bonus points if you have a view of the brooklyn bridge or manhattan skyline). Or maybe it’s just totally rad for drinking microbrews with the bros and getting fucckkeeeddd up!

I’ve yet to understand it. The amazing feeling of sitting on a roof. If the weather so permits, I’d rather just sit outside, and on the ground. Maybe on some grass or something.



Leave a Comment
  1. G.D. / Mar 26 2009 9:06 pm

    This is funny on SO many levels. I just got invited to a get-together where part of the pitch was ‘oh, and they have rooftop access!’

  2. KrisH / Mar 27 2009 11:52 am

    lmao…that was funny

  3. jelz / Apr 2 2009 8:42 pm

    hey!! i like rooftops too!!

  4. jelz / Apr 2 2009 8:44 pm

    i think its cool because you can be outside in the fresh air while drinking and smoking or whatever you do without having to worry about getting arrest by nypd….private backyards are equally as nice.

  5. Phil / Apr 7 2009 4:43 pm

    I lived in New York City most of my life.

    Then moved to Rochester, NY. All our roofs slope. No one thinks about roof access other than the 12 grand or so it cost to replace them.

    I now have a roof vocabulary. Eaves, soffits, etc.

    I’ve concluded a backyard is really really cool.

  6. chad / Jan 29 2010 2:47 am

    Man,you nailed it!When I first moved to N.Y. I moved to an apartment in brooklyn with “rooftop access”.The landlord informed me of this as if it were a bonus so I immediatly felt like it was something cool.So I moved in and a few weeks later asked how to get up there.He pointed to some sketchy looking steps.I walked up and man was it scary.The sun shining off the aluminum roof was blinding.The view was into other apartment buildings.Other people seemed to have been enjoying it up there as there was a little mini inlatable pool that seemed to be a permanent fixture up there.Never went back up there.When I moved I asked the super in the apt buiding if there was rooftop access as I was now wondering if this was a feature on every prewar multi unit building.He asked why?In a very cross examining way.I said my last place had one and I thouhgt it was strange.He said “no ones allowed up there because kids smoke pot and get into trouble”.Long story short..I guess I just dont get it either,I would say I understand it as an alternative to a back yard but it really never felt that way to me personally.

  7. marsha / Jul 13 2010 11:51 pm

    We have had access to our roof for over 4years now, all of the sudden they put a lock and emerengcy handle thought this was pretty weird being the landlord had just put gates up all around the roof, I was maybe wandering if there was a law about having a lock on the door in case there was a fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CONCERNED IN HARLEM

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