Re: Grey back porches
Date: August 04, 2012 03:35PM
Let me address this in two parts.
First the gray.
My porch (3 story, first built in 1909) Still has a few original boards. In spite of the fact that the Dept of Buildings makes a beeline to my door every time a porch collapses in the city. Stratographic analysis of paint chips shows Ochre, dark brown, white (might be white lead primer), several layers of grays, dark brown, gray and finally the green I painted on.
Two things about painting a porch.
First, it takes about 5 gal per coat for a three flat. Good paint is not cheap and I suspect the gray period was started when surplus battleship paint hit the market.
Second, 75% of a porch consists of nooks and crannies. It is cost effective to keep painting it the same color and not sweat the spots you miss.
As to their design, the code had something to do with this but not directly.
The fire code requires that each dwelling unit has 2 direct forms of egress. This is why the porches are there.
It also requires that the stairways be a minimum 3 ft wide. This is why most porches are about 6 ft wide (two flights of stairs between levels)
The rest of the classic porch design evolved as the most cost effective way to do this. Post and beam frame work, simple decks etc. These porches are not just a Chicago thing. You will see nearly identical ones in any big city.