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The rooftop aviary Previous

The sport of pigeon flying was introduced to the city by the waves of nineteenth-century European immigrants. Especially popular in Italy, this sport was well adapted to the city where, as Jane Schwartz writes, "clusters of flat-roofed tenements provided the ideal architectural setting for this sky-based sport."

Boys sitting on stoop
c. 1940: Feeding the pigeons, Manhattan
(Roy Perry, Museum of the City of New York)

Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Williamsburg often provided the ideal social setting; cooperative landlords allowed flyers to build pigeon coops and raise hundreds of pigeons on their rooftops. On a cold, dear morning in Brooklyn, the pigeons fly almost all the way to the Empire State Building.

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

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