Desperately Seeking Rooftop View

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ryan Kailath on a downtown rooftop. (Photo courtesy Ryan Kailath)

Ryan Kailath missed the mountains of Northern California. He missed scrambling up cliff faces and trekking down steep ravines. He missed nature and that sense of awe, spirituality and solitude it provided him. So he did his best to recreate the feeling smack in the heart of New York City. 

"I try to get on the roof of any building that I'm in," says Kailath, 31, who moved to New York in 2007 and estimates that he has since snuck onto the tops of at least 50 NYC buildings. Madison Square Garden is the crown jewel in his portfolio of thrills, but there's also a long list of failures, including 30 Rock, and more than a few run-ins with security personnel.  

But Kailath, a journalist, swears it's not about the adrenaline—even if the reporter he brought along on his latest excursion might beg to differ.  

Produced by:

Paul Schneider


Karen Frillmann


More in:

Comments [4]

tom LI

While its profoundly silly to think some hipster California Dude is heading to the rooftops of NYC to find some purpose, and/or some sanctuary...its also downright stupid in this post 9-11 world. All he needs do is run into the wrong security and/or cops, and be charged with some (trumped up of course) form of terrorist activity. He might not know a foreign dignitary is visiting the area, might not know that DHS and its affiliates are setting up rooftop "sniper-observation" posts, etc, etc...and winds up in jail, and on any number of watch lists.

Whats also fascinating, is this Millenial, Hipster, d-bag proclivity to advertize ones criminal activity. If I was a cop listening to this, and work in Manhattan, Im gonna keep an eye out for this guy...score some points with my bosses.

Aug. 15 2014 12:10 PM
Bruce Harris from New Jersey

I agree with the foregoing comments. I was shocked that WNYC, the only radio station I listen to, would promote an illegal and dangerous activity in such a cavalier manner. I am sure that there are many legal and safe "sanctuaries" in NYC. The airing of this story reflected a serious editorial misjudgment and has adversely affected my opinion of WNYC.

Aug. 15 2014 07:36 AM
Samuel Roberts from NYC/Northampton, MA

I'm an avid WNYC listener (I listen online when I'm out of town, as I am today). But I found this story to be offensive, and it's been bothering me all day. If Kailath and the reporter had been black, they never would have considered breaking into corporate rooftops unless they were hoping to be incarcerated or -- given what's going on in NYC, Ferguson, and Los Angeles -- killed. If non-black people want to break into buildings knowing that the worst repercussions will be an escort from the premises, that's their business. But WNYC can do better than to help them flaunt this privilege in front of their black listeners. This story was a terrible way to begin my day, nothing but a reminder that some people have unwarranted privileges that others cannot enjoy in our current society.
And by the way, that nonsense wasn't news or even human interest. Just self-indulgent hipster naval-gazing. There's a lot of real news going on in this city and this world. While some people are harassed and abused down on the street, you quite literally have your heads in the clouds. Please wake up.

Aug. 15 2014 12:01 AM
Witness to Whippersnappery from The Amen Corner

Isn't it about time all this trespassing and tomfoolery came to a stop?
Notice the age of the offenders.
In an earlier era, they would have all been eligible for the draft or building roads for the Civilian Conservation Corps or bringing in the crops, or at least cleaning out chimneys.
Nowadays, they have too much time on their hands.
"Idle hands are the devil's workshop" Proverbs 16:27

Aug. 14 2014 11:09 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by