It is incorrect to assume that the Dutch New Yorkers were monopolists of the curb or gambrel roof. They never built the high-peaked gables typical of early New England dwellings. At first they covered their homes with low, wide-spreading gable-roofs of single pitch. But when the double-pitched gambrel came into style in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, it was adopted by the settlers in the Hudson Valley. There it continued in common, but timid use. When we say that they applied this roof-style timidly, we mean that the Dutch builders did not vary the angles of the upper and lower slopes much: The effect still was almost of flatness and the extra space provided for the second-story rooms was not great.
1 Adapted from "What Is a Dutch Colonial?" Small Home, January, 1926.
Then how were these rooms made light and airy? Imperfectly, if at all. Later generations of owners may have poked dormers through the roof. Many homes of the sons or grandsons of the first pioneers had a row of windows tucked in below the eaves. But in most of the old houses of this style all the light and ventilation for the upstairs were provided by tiny windows in the ends of the house and by not carrying the partitions of the rooms fully up to the ceiling so that a draft could move through the whole length of the house.