Washington Square Attics

On the north side of Washington Square, in Greenwich Village, is a beautiful row of town houses. These were bulit for wealthy New Yorkers in the Greek Revival style. When these were built, in the 1830's, a lot of people thought Greek-inspired architecture was the way to go for the young American republic. Basically, people thought the Greeks liked democracy, and we liked democracy... therefore, because the Greeks used columns, we should use columns.


Look along the top of the row- those narrow spaces are early examples of attics. This was a recent architectural development, replacing the pitched roofs of earlier houses. "Attic" means "Greek", and the new term was a tribute to the "Greekness" of the building. The spaces inside are a little larger than they look from the outside, but they're still pretty cramped. This is where the domestic servants were housed- ususally Irish or black women.

This information is taken from Hope Cook's wonderful book Seeing New York (Temple Univ. Press, 1995).



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