September 17, 2021 Building series: Hasidic architecture and family-size balconies
One of the many interesting things in Hasidic Williamsburg is this: You can tell if a building is occupied by Hasidic families just by looking at it, because you will notice balconies as big as some people’s entire apartments.
In the video above, which is an excerpt from my video tour, I explain why the Hasidic homes are built this way.
The video was filmed on this street, South 9th, where you easily see how the Hasidic buildings differ from the glass building of their “hipster” neighbors.
The Hasidic buildings have giant staggered balconies. The balconies are built this way in order to accommodate the fall holiday Sukkos, when families erect a lovely hut inside their balconies and have their meals in it.
During the few weeks of the high holidays, our tour gets to see the transformation. The balconies and streets come alive with construction. And then, as quickly as the huts go up, they disappear again.
The construction of homes with oversized balconies is just one of many ways in which Hasidic homes are designed differently than standard housing stock. The need for a large kosher kitchen, small bedrooms for many kids, a dining room rather than a living room, all of these are ways in which the homes built for this community are tailored to its needs. The effect of building homes for a specific way of life is that they are then marketed to people with such needs, further driving the insular housing stock. After all, how many non-Hasidic Brooklynites will end up living in an apartment complex with a giant, oversized balcony?