A Ski Chalet in Manhattan (And Other Rooftop Houses)

For the first year or two after I moved to New York, I became one of those people who smugly criticizes tourists for "looking up." "Looking up" to ogle buildings as you walked down the street (causing you to inevitably bump into real New Yorkers like me with places to go) was about the greatest sin you could commit (well, after pronouncing Houston Street "Hue-ston," of course).

I've since tried to mellow out as I move into my tenth year in the city, and I now make it a point to look up. Hell, if you don't look up, you could miss something absolutely extraordinary like this:

Don't see it? A little closer...

See it there? Perched on top of the corner brick building? I happened to be standing at the corner of East 1st Street and 1st Avenue paying for my parking meter when I looked up and saw this.

Did a tornado rip through Cape Cod and drop an ocean-side beach house onto an East Village apartment building?? Note not only the double-level bay windows, but also the octagonal window on the right, the fantastic cuppola, and the horse weathervane. No kidding, a horse weathervane.

Here's a slightly different view:

I have never seen anything like this before, and maybe one of these days, I'll have an excuse to scout it for a film. Since finding it, I've learned that the owner has named it "Up-Upon-It," in joking reference to friends with cottages in Sagaponack. Though I've heard rumors the place is surrounded by sand and beach chairs, others have reported that this is a myth, and that the structure is actually only a guest room connected to the fourth floor apartment. Regardless, it seems quite appropriate that such a structure is located at Kramer's Nexus of the Universe...

After posting about the beach house, a reader commented that it reminded her of a rooftop house on 13th and 3rd, above the Kiehl's store. I immediately had to go and see it for myself, and sure enough, there's a clapboard house - with brick chimney! - perched on top of a 4-story apartment building.

A quick glance from the street would probably make you think this is nothing more than a roof addition. However, it seems big enough to be a residence in itself.

Note the trees/shrubs on what I think might be a patio. Strange there's no window on the chimney-side wall.

The structure stretches back the length of the building:

Could this be a new trend? After all, Manhattan is completely out of ground space.

I came across a third rooftop house by accident while walking on West 77th Street. I happened to spy it, poking through the trees...Something that seemed out of place...

I climbed up the steps of a brownstone and got the best view I could. Another rooftop house? This one seemed to resemble a ski chalet.

This glass-covered house isn't on 77th Street...but it isn't on 78th Street either. It's located about halfway between the block. There's a space between the buildings on Amsterdam, which gives you another rare view:

From the front on West 78th Street, it's obscured by the apartment buildings.

I circled around to Broadway, which gave me the final view possible.

What the heck is this thing? Just an addition? Or something that qualifies it as a rooftop house? The satellite image from Google suggests there might even be a full patio surrounding this structure:

A NY Times article revealed that the house is the creation of architect and owner Andrew Tesoro, whose firm was responsible for the converted church location for John's Pizza on West 44th, among others. Read all about Tesoro's house here.

Anyway, the moral of the story: stop worrying about looking like a tourist and try looking up for a change. You might come across one of these amazing rooftop houses...or you might even find yourself at the nexus of the universe...