Photo courtesy of Eric Johnson

In 1914, a group of artists—including John Sloan and Marcel Duchamp—climbed the spiral staircase inside the Washington Arch and gained access to the roof. Once there, they lit a bonfire and read a resolution proclaiming the Republic of Greenwich Village, and then they toasted with champagne.

The roof of the arch seems like a good place for such a highbrow rebellion, the sort of spot a gaggle of men sporting rugby scarves and a bullhorn (or the Dead Poets Society) would meet. In fact, the two men in this photo—taken by a tipster in 2009—kind of look like they were scoping out the roof for a secret society scroll-reading ritual to happen later in the evening.


Sadly, the roof (as well as the interior) is closed off to the public, so you really do need a nice mixture of peer pressure, champagne, and rebellious tendencies to get up there. But as explained to the WSJ years ago, "The roof is quite fragile. If we allowed the public up here, the roof would fail quite quickly."