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68,332 · Hyatt · "Improvement in Illuminating-Roofs and Roof-Pavements" · Page 1
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Patents: 36 of 511

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Thaddeus Hyatt
5 of 67
Specification forming part of Letters Patent No. 68,332, dated August 27, 1867.
To all whom it may concern:
    Be it known that I, THADDEUS HYATT, late of New York, now domiciled at Atchison, Kansas, have made certain new and useful improvements in constructing and combining my patented illuminating vault-covers so as to form roofs by the combination, of such strength as to be also suitable for sidewalks-- that is to say, where the sidewalk serves as a roof to an underground room.
    By the term "sidewalk" I mean to include also the stoop or covering to the area or area-way that lights the basement, the purpose the invention being to change the use of the space underneath sidewalks from coal-vaults to finished apartments capable of becoming a portion of the basement. This purpose I effect, mainly, by the area, which, by the old method of building, was a chasm to separate but by my method becomes a bond to unite the two; and this bond is effected because my illuminating-roof to the area is also a roof-pavement-- that is to say, a surface of glass and iron suitable for being walked upon.
    I do not claim to be the first to enlarge a basement by taking into it the area-space, nor the first to incorporate the area-space into the basement by a glass covering; but I do set forth as my invention that my glass covering does not barricade the doorways of the building. My glass covering is in the nature of a bridge instead of a barricade-- that is to say, it joins the sidewalk to the building, and this keeps the communication open from the street to the doorways. This feature will be better understood by considering the condition of the art as I found it. The only actual basement extension which I found when I began my improvements was where the area-way alone was taken into the basement, not the vault beyond it, and this area was covered by a skylight, and this skylight was above the level of the street, and then the whole thing was cut off from the sidewalk by an iron railing. This was the state of the art as I found it. Now, a skylight is merely a shield against the weather-- a covering to an opening in a roof, as a vault-cover is to a coal-hole in the sidewalk. Neither is incorporated into its support in such way as to become a part of its general strength. The iron railing to the skylight which covered
the area-way above alluded to proves the weak and dangerous character of such structures. Their insecurity in roofs of buildings has also been fatally proven in New York on several occasions, where intrepid firemen have lost their lives, while their utter uselessness as protection against fire, or, rather, their dangerous character as exposing premises to fire, led the fire-insurance companies of New York to put a heavy extra-hazardous premium on all warehouses where they were in use; but in the same book this extra premium on skylights was printed stood the following: "No extra charge where Hyatt's roof-lights are employed." The skylight to the area-way of the basement above spoken of was made by setting the sashes on an incline against the building, their lower edges being fastened to the area-coping, and their upper edges to the face of the wall against which they were supported. The arrangement was therefore in the nature of a barricade to the doorways of the principal story. All other underground rooms existing at that period, those at the New York Sun buildings included, were simply vaults, and lighted from light-holes. All were apartments distinct from the basements, and none of them were able to add light to the basement, for they had not sufficient light for themselves.
    The first thoroughly-lighted vault ever constructed was made so by a sidewalk of my lights, laid by me for the New York Herald building in the year 1850. This enabled me, two years later, to get the opportunity of laying down an actual basement extension, taking in all the space under the sidewalk, and going two stories under ground; but that year, the following, and the next were required in order to perfect the work so as to secure the public confidence, which was accomplished only when, after repeated failures, I at length succeeded in making water-tight joints that would stand both summer and winter and concussions of every kind and constantly repeated.
    About the year 1855 my invention began to be regarded by property-holders and architects as an established success. About that time, also, it began to be stolen. The water-tight joint of which I have spoken was a