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  • it’s a widow’s walk, common in seaside houses in the 17-1800s.

  • If you can walk on it it is a widow’s walk. This is a cupola.

  • Not a widow’s walk – those were actual outdoor platforms, or balconies. I seem to remember this type of structure from a posting long ago however, and maybe it had something to do with ventilation? Opening the windows made a chimney to draw hot air out of the house?

    • The beautiful condo building that used to be a hideous church in ledroit park has one. A post on that building is what you’re thinking.

    • Yeah, it’s a cupola and they were indeed for ventilation. They would have had louvers, not glass, back in the day. Animals put out alot of heat, and in the summertime cupolas would provide ventilation, in the winter they would be closed off.

  • I would call it a belvedere, as cupolas tend to be octagonal. They were originally for light and ventilation, and to let hot air escape during the summer.

  • In architecture, a cupola ( /ˈkjuːpələ/) is a small, most-often dome-like, structure on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome.

    The word derives, via Italian, from the lower Latin cupula (classical Latin cupella from the Greek (κύπελλον kupellon) small cup (Latin cupa) indicating a vault resembling an upside down cup.

    Cupolas are ornamental structures placed in a prominent position, usually at the top of a larger roof or dome. They often appear as small buildings in their own right, like diminutive temples perched on top of a building. They can be the small dome that crowns the top of an outdoor garden pavilion, folly, or gazebo. Sometimes the pavilion itself is called a cupola, especially when it takes on the form of a small, round Roman temple with a dome. Cupolas occasionally act as the main roof of a tower, spire, or turret. When they do, they usually provide a considerably more elaborate enclosure than the average roof.

    Cupolas on roofs may be accessible from the inside, commanding a high vantage point from which to look out over the world. This kind is often called a belvedere or a “widow’s walk”. When they are perforated with windows for illuminating the spaces below, they are also known as lanterns. This type may or may not be accessible from the inside. A cupola that maintains a low profile, not poking out much above the roof, is sometimes called a monitor.

    Variations on the word “cupola” appear in other Indo-European languages, typically referring to a dome. In some of these languages, a variant of the English word “dome” will indicate a cathedral. A variant of the English word “lantern” in these same languages will often come closest in meaning to the word “cupola” in its rooftop English sense

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