The first rules for fire safety in domestic buildings in New York were introduced in the 1860s, requiring some form of additional exit on buildings that housed more than eight families above the first floor.
The rule was substantially updated in 1901, defining the size of the balcony and the angle and material of the stairs. It also mandated the positioning of the escape on the front of the house, bringing us the distinctive balconies and stairs that are now classic New York.
A rule change in 1968, though, actually banned the construction of external fire escapes on almost all new buildings, so the ones we see these days are now a part of history.
How would Tony have wooed Maria, if West Side Story had been set after that rule change?
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 20 December 2018
Posted as part of #timesquare