Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/196

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PSM V80 D196 The vanderbilt tenements.png
Fig. 2. The Vanderbilt Tenements.

that is now of the past, however, and the first of his buildings is now nearly ready for occupancy.

Mr. Smith's chief aim and purpose in the construction and arrangement of his buildings is to secure for them the greatest possible supply of fresh air and sunshine, and conversely to eliminate every opportunity for darkness and bad ventilation. Instead of erecting one immense structure broken only by the narrow shafts and congested yards of most tenement houses, he makes each building a group of four units, each surrounding a spacious central court. This court is entered through a direct, unobstructed passage from the street. One of these entrances is seen at the right of Fig. 1. From the central court there are recessed stairways in each corner extending all the way to the roof, and with private entrances directly into each apartment.

These are the open stairs which form the distinguishing characteristic of all the tenement houses designed by Mr. Smith. The primary purpose of these open stairs is to do away with all interior passages and hallways and to provide each family with its own entrance from outside the building. The open stairs are in reality open on one side only as shown in Fig. 3, which gives not only a view of the interior of one stair well, but also a view of the well in the opposite corner of the court as seen from outside. Every particle of material in the stairway is fireproof and hardly a crack or a crevice is left in which dust or dirt may collect. The railings are of iron, and midway between the floors are iron seats to serve as resting places. To keep out rain and snow there are hoods over these seats, projecting outward at the proper angle to