Step, Stoep, Stoop

2021

Derived from the Dutch word “stoep,” meaning step, the classic New York brownstone stoop comes from the Dutch custom of elevating the main floor above the ground [12]. Buildings were prone to flooding in Holland’s wet terrain, and were thus raised [13]. In New York, the raising of the main floor in effect provided two ground floors: one for utility, service, and delivery, and the other for social reception [14]. By the 1860’s, “the classic ‘brownstone’ had emerged…The ground floor was slightly below grade, with a room at the front and a kitchen at the rear – and fairly good light.” (Gray, Christopher, “A Town House’s Past, and Its Missing Neighbor(s).” New York Times, June 5, 2005.) Originally built as a single-family home, over time, it became common for the brownstone to house multiple tenants on each of the separate floors. Today, the stoop is often depicted as a hub of social and cultural gathering, a vibrant zone of informal interactions and encounters, of leisure, as well as a means of collective security and public safety [15].

A proposal for a temporary pavilion.

















[12] Jacobs, Andrew. “Stoops: Steeped in History.” The New York Times, Mar 10, 1996.
[13] Gray, Christopher. “Brownstone Stoops.” The New York Times, Jan 28, 1982.
[14] Jacobs, Andrew. “Stoops: Steeped in History.” The New York Times, Mar 10, 1996.
[15] Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Books, 2016, p 35.

Mark