Promenade in 1996, looking southwest (Clinton Library)
Before the construction of a proper third floor in 1927, this was simply part of the roof. Early in the 20th century a simple "sleeping porch" was built here in the space now occupied by the Solarium. The Promenade has since become something like a patio for first families. President Eisenhower like to grill on the Promenade. His preferred method was to grill salt-encrusted steaks right on the coals.
The Promenade is surrounded by a high and heavy balustrade that shields it from wind and from view. The Promenade sits about 3 feet higher than the third floor itself, except for the Solarium, which is at the same level as the Promenade.
Adapted from America's First Families: Chapter 3, A Home Within a Symbol:
Promenade around the Solarium in 1987 (Dept of Defense)
Promenade around the north side in 1987, looking south (Dept of Defense)
Jack Ford having a cigarette on the promenade in 1976 (Rolling Stone)
Ike cooking chicken, around 1955 (Eisenhower Library)
Ike grilling outside the Sun Room (Eisenhower Library)
Promenade outside the new Sun Room in 1952 (Truman Library)
Southwest corner after the raising of the corners of the roof, 1952 (Truman Library)
Southwest corner before the raising of the corners of the roof, 1950 (Truman Library)
Promenade before the renovation of the Sun Room, circa 1950 (Truman Library)
Third floor exterior in 1945 (Life - George Skadding)
Promenade area in 1923 (Library of Congress - Herbert A French)