All of our buildings in DC are short. I think the tallest building I’ve ever been in is 14 stories tall. The building where I live is just 8 floors and the building where I work, just 7. Yet because all the buildings are equally tall/short, if you stand in the rooftop of one building you can pretty much see the entire district, or at least one of its many beautiful landmarks.
Here I give props to Virginia. When I lived in Crystal City I lived in a building that had a rooftop with a pretty amazing view of the Potomac. From a certain spot I could also see the Capitol dome if I got on my tiptoes or stood on a chair. It was pretty great.
From my building in DC I can see the Washington Monument and I (and my neighbors and all their friends) have a pretty spectacular view of the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Both of these views are free or rather, included in the ridiculously high rent*. There are also plenty of places where you can pay to get an amazing view of the district. There’s Point of View at the top of the W Hotel, a few bars on U Street and the restaurant at the Doubletree in Pentagon City which everyone swears has the best view of DC (I haven’t been there, so I don’t know.)
So that is one thing that I like about rooftops: the amazing views. Something else I like about them is that you kind of get the feeling of being outdoors while being in the city. You can feel the wind and the sun and also hear the sirens and the motorcades. It’s pretty excellent.
The view and the feeling of being outdoors more than compensate for the fact that “rooftop” in DC most often means concrete floors and a few plastic chairs.
*This is not true of my DC building, which is rent controlled (thank god).