Service of Extraneous Embellishments: Balconies on NYC Apartment Buildings

July 17th, 2019

Categories: Architecture, Gardening, New York City

A balcony was never on my bucket list but I am having fun with mine. It came with my apartment, which was chosen in a rush. It has a super view of the East River.

I use it to play city gardener on a miniscule scale. I enjoy watching my posies blossom and grow. The geraniums, some that moved to the city from my house in Dutchess County and lived indoors since–until it warmed up; coleus; a sunflower, a spiky plant and petunias [not shown], all grow much faster outside than in. They aren’t subject to the predators of the country but they have their pet peeves.

Pigeons like them too–so I bought pinwheels hoping to discourage them from disturbing my balcony garden. New York pigeons have moxy–they’re not afraid of much. Rules are strict at the building: we can’t hang pots off the railings. If I could, I bet a few well placed pinwheels in those pots would discourage the pigeons big-time.

But I digress. The purpose of this post is to show the many balconies that are never used– which is most of the ones I’ve seen all over the place. They appear on new and old construction. Way to the back of the photo at the top of this post–if you look carefully–you can see some being added to a building under construction. And they line the sides of the black apartment house across the street from mine [photo below, right], like vertebrae on a dinosaur. The structure was just finished.

Why do architects and developers opt for such a little-used addition? Do you think people would take more advantage of the space if it was a sunroom with walls of windows? Why don’t more people enjoy their balconies?

 

 

 

 

9 Responses to “Service of Extraneous Embellishments: Balconies on NYC Apartment Buildings”

  1. ASK Said:

    I have never enjoyed my apartments’ balconies, even if they had a view. For me, the reason was simple: too much schmutz in the air. After a few days, any furniture had to be wiped down. I felt like I needed a shower after 10 minutes sitting on it!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    I am still giggling!

    There was a cartoon–probably in the New Yorker–I remember from childhood. It pictured a wife on a NYC balcony with table set for two. The caption read something like “Hurry up, Harry–dinner’s served: Get here before the soup gets dirty.”

    As for dust, it has followed me inside no matter where I’ve lived from Illinois and North Dakota to Turkey, Dutchess County, Brooklyn and Manhattan: it’s everywhere!

  3. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: Fear of heights, dirt, noise. Too high maintenance because of the dirt & weather. A sun room would be used more frequently (IMO)

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    All good points so why are they popping up all over the place like a rash? Do you think none of the apartments with balconies are rented?

  5. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    Apparently there is a phenomenon called the dust line. We discovered it when we were apartment hunting. I can’t remember where it is (11th floor?) but below that line, the city dust is indeed terrible. Above it, complaining says more about the person complaining than the actual dust.

    I have indeed often wondered why they put balconies below that line. But in truth, it increases the value of any apartment

  6. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    Apparently there is a phenomenon called the dust line. We discovered it when we were apartment hunting. I can’t remember where it is (11th floor?) but below that line, the city dust is indeed terrible. Above it, complaining says more about the person complaining than the actual dust.

    I have indeed often wondered why they put balconies below that line. But in truth, it increases the value of any apartment

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Amanda—

    I didn’t know that! I’m on 27. Didn’t notice extreme dust!

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    Most balcony owners in my building put them to use, be it for adornment, gardening, or for outdoor cooking. My lukewarm envy for not enjoying the amenity cooled after one became detached, falling some 20+ floors to the pavement, killing the tenant who was just starting a conversation with the occupant next door. News sources reported the incident to have taken place in a “luxury” Manhattan building. Happened several years ago. The Daily News carried the story in huge letters on first page. Nobody saw this?

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    We’re not permitted to cook on our balconies. And when I lived in buildings with beautiful roofs outfitted for entertaining, we also weren’t allowed to grill. I was told that one tenant, slightly inebriated, once tossed hot coals over the roof….Yikes.

    I heard from two people that a young man fell off a balcony in the building I live in. Accidents happen. I imagine if my balcony became unglued, it would land on the one below me. If I thought of and worried about everything that could happen to me if I did this, that or the other I would probably lock myself in a closet. Boy would I miss a lot!

Leave a Reply