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8 things every New Yorker has done on their rooftop

Admit it, you’ve definitely panicked that you’ve locked yourself up there.

Written by
Kristen Perrone

If you can make it to a New York City apartment building with rooftop access, it’s safe to say that you can make it anywhere.

Scoring a golden ticket to that elusive patch of concrete assures you a few hours of private, quiet outdoor time that a bustling Saturday in the park can’t measure up to. Whether you call a rooftop building home or if you have friends with high connections, there are certain things that every New Yorker has done on a rooftop. 

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1. Attempted growing a garden

Being a plant parent can be tricky in an apartment with little to no natural light available, so once you have rooftop access, moving the succulents and herb patches up there could be your next best decision. But then again, a city rooftop isn’t a greenhouse, so uncontrollable weather, wild pigeons, and interfering neighbors may spoil this grand vision.

2. Sunbathed

If you want to work on your tan in green space around the city, chances are that as soon you’ve found an ideal spot, it starts raining, a squirrel won’t leave you alone, or you’re craving the exact snack you chose not to bring along. It’s no wonder it feels luxurious to sunbathe on a rooftop just a few floors away from your bathroom, fridge, and AC. 

3. Worked from home

The eternal struggle when working remotely is realizing that beautiful weather is just waiting outside your window. With a rooftop, you can have the best of both worlds, but when you’re trying to clock in from outside, don’t forget to account for a spotty Wi-Fi connection, sun glare on your computer screen, and traffic noise during your team meeting. 

4. Thrown a birthday party, housewarming, or going-away party 

What’s more picturesque than a rooftop drenched in fairy lights on a balmy summer night with a perfect skyline view? Your party will likely run into a few snafus that Hollywood’s vision of rooftop parties never quite captures, but the setting alone will ensure that your guests will never forget it. 

5. Started a turf war with neighbors

Not every rooftop is created equal, and most involve sharing the space with others in your building. This may entail passive-aggressive exchanges with neighbors about random items someone left behind, attempting to beat everyone else upstairs for a shady spot, and threatening to call the super when someone has one too many parties there. 

6. Accidentally dropped something over a ledge

The culprit here was either a gust of surprisingly strong wind or an overzealous hand reaching for something. Hopefully, anything that falls off the rooftop ledge is more along the lines of a paper plate rather than your cell phone or that homemade Mason jar you haggled for at a Williamsburg street fair. 

7. Thought they locked themselves on the roof

Blame any sitcom based in an apartment building, but every New Yorker has a slight fear of locking themselves out of their building. What’s even worse are the fleeting seconds of panic when you think you’ve locked yourself on the rooftop while alone. You might resort to 911 calls or desperate shouts to people below before realizing that the door had just jammed and you’re perfectly fine. At least you can say you’re well-rehearsed in case of an emergency.

8. Spied on other buildings or passersby 

If you thought the view from your bedroom window was great for spying on neighbors, wait until you realize how much you’re privy to from the roof. You could practically write a neighborhood newsletter about your bird eye’s view of the street’s construction, that one apartment’s questionable nighttime activities, and when the bakery around the corner has no line. After all, from a New York City rooftop, it’s just your own little world. 

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