What heightened the mood of those evenings on the roof, aside from our vertiginous height? Every proper rooftop offers a sense of seclusion, an “eye” on the street, along with the sense that you cannot be seen, though could be; other tenants might imminently appear on your rooftop or on those nearby. It is exactly this partial escape from the gaze of Jacobs’s “natural proprietors”—the blurring of that “clear demarcation” of public and private space—that gives the rooftop its delicate promise of mischief and freedom. Also its intimation of danger: there is no community policing here, just you policing your proximity to the edge. Thus, there pervades on the rooftop a mood of celebratory misdemeanor, further aided by the fact that it is uncolonized by purpose. There’s no one thing you’re supposed to do on a roof, and, more crucially, nothing that’s technically forbidden. It is a private space exposed to public view, and yet with fluid rules of public conduct.

From Ode to Rooftops by Jessi Jezewska Stevens (via MetaFilter)

Join the Conversation?

Hello. My name is Bix. @bix