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Stoop sitting: a time honored tradition Previous | Next


By the early nineteenth century, New Yorkers had already developed an affinity for "stoop sitting" on warm summer evenings. In the 1820s, one Englishman raved about the joys of sitting outdoors "on the steps that ornament the entrances of the houses. On these occasions, friends assemble in the most agreeable and unceremonious manner. All sorts of cooling beverages and excellent confectionary are handed round and the greatest good humour and gaiety prevail." Although one architectural critic had accused the stoop of "endangering the neck," for the Englishman, stoop-sitting was so pleasing that it compensated for the burden of climbing the steps.

Girls on stoop
1900: Girls on stoop
(Jacob Riis Collection, Museum of the City of New York)

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Taken from City Play, copyright ©1990. Used with permission by Streetplay.com.

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