Utne Blogs > Literature

In Praise of the Balcony

by Elizabeth Ryan 


Tags: Great Writing, balcony, space, public, private, maisonneuve, Elizabeth Ryan,

balconycultureOh the balcony. It’s an iconic symbol that takes on nuanced incarnations that span cites, countries and cultures. From giant, barred bird-cage like enclosures to tiny stucco patios housing plants, the spaces differ both in form and function. The recent issue of Canada’s maisonneuve featured some beautiful images and a little ode to the “lost art of balcony culture,” with some lovely observations:  

They’re a bridge between the private and the public, inviting domestic activity into the street and social life into the home. If the city is a stage, the balcony is just that—the balcony, a spot for observing drama and, as with the two old men in The Muppet Show, occasionally participating in it. And balconies are unique in every city. In Vancouver’s West End, where apartment buildings nestle into lush greenery, they are for quiet post-dinner conversation and solitary reading. Neighbors are glimpsed, voyeuristically, but interaction is rare. In the coastal Indian city of Chennai…mothers to warn their daughters against spending too much time on the balcony.

Here in Minnesota, as in Montreal, we’re just happy for warm enough weather to step out on ours to do anything.

Source: maisonneuve (not yet available online)

Image by david.nikonvscanon, licensed under Creative Commons