New York City’s First Rooftop Farm – circa 1904
Erected between 1899 and 1904, it was the first air-conditioned hotel in New York.
Excerpt from ‘The Building of the Upper West Side’ by Steven Gaines
“The farm on the roof,” Weddie Stokes wrote years later, “included about 500 chicken, many ducks, about six goats and a small bear.” Every day, a bellhop delivered free fresh eggs to all the tenants, and any surplus was sold cheaply to the public in the basement arcade. Not much about this feature charmed the city fathers, however, and in 1907, the Department of Health shut down the farm in the sky. The animals went to Central Park and lived happily ever after.
See more in “The Building of the Upper West Side”. New York Magazine The ups and downs of the apartment house where the Black Sox plotted, Stravinsky composed, and Plato’s Retreat sizzled—and of the black-sheep tycoon whose mad dream it was. Here.
W. E. D. Stokes Saves His Son’s Pet Pig
New York Times / November 12, 1907
W. E. D. Stokes, owner of the Ansonia apartments, at Broadway and Seventy-third Street, spent a busy hour yesterday when he heard that complaint had been made against him to the Board of Health for harboring “pigs and geese” on the roof of the big building in violation of the Sanitary Code.
Mr. Stokes did have a pig and four geese on the roof, but they were all in safety before the arrival of the man sent by Chief Sanitary Inspector Raynor to investigate the sky farm.
The pig is called Nanki-Poo and is the adored pet of Mr. Stokes’s son, William Earle Dodge Stokes Jr. Ever since last summer the little animal has had an ideal home amid the chimney pots of the Ansonia. Four wild geese with clipped wings were recently added to the establishment to keep the pig company. For hours little Stokes would romp with his pets, and Nanki was especially dear to the boy, as he had raised him from the milk-bottle stage.
All was serene until yesterday, when the complaint was lodged with the Board of Health. But Mr. Stokes heard a half hour in advance that his farm was to be raided. He had an office on the sixteenth floor of the apartment house, but when the safety of his son’s pig was threatened, all business was dropped. He dashed up the narrow stairway in the twilight, followed by his son, and made a brief survey of the roof. Nanki-Poo, unconscious of his peril, was noisily devouring pap. The four wild geese were dining sumptuously on cracked corn.