loft, n.

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 2 03:36:28 UTC 2011

Has anyone looked into the history of "loft" as a reference to converted
warehouse space apartments?

I was curious of the exact timeline on Tribeca (TriBeCa) and that led me to
a handful of NYT articles from 1974-6. The earliest appears to be from Nov.
24, 1974 (apparently the NYT article that Wiki editors could not find). The
snippet in the preview contains the phrase "an illegal community of loft
dwellers", which is what prompted this query. Of course, I'm familiar with
lofts, but I just looked through the OED list and there seems to be a gap
when it comes to loft dwellers. Sure, there is an entry for apartments
(3.a. and 3.b.) and another for "upper floors of a warehouse" (5.a.), but
these are not connected to each other. In fact, I suspect that the current
use arose from 5.a., so it should be filed under 5., not be a part of 3.

Any comments? Lofts, of course, are not limited to NYC or just converted
warehouses, but the association is still there.


PS: There is a second meaning of loft missing from the list. A loft is also
a [usually wooden] deck that elevates the bed (mattress) from the floor,
leaving useful workspace or storage space below. Occasionally (though not
uniformly) this also refers to children's double-deck beds. Similarly, an
elevated deck constructed in an apartment but used for storage also often
is referred to as a loft. All of these have obvious derivations from
already listed meanings, but don't fall squarely under any of them.

The American Dialect Society -

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