Restaurants often use awnings broad enough to cover substantial outdoor area for outdoor dining, parties, or reception. In commercial buildings, an awning is often painted with information as to the name, business, and address, thus acting as a sign or billboard as well as providing shade, breaking steep winds, and protecting from rain or snow. In areas with wintry weather, most awnings do not have to be taken down at the end of the summer - they can remain retracted against the building all winter long, or be designed and built for those conditions.
In the second half of the 19th century, manufactured operable Canvas Awnings grew in popularity. Previously, most awnings had fixed frames-the primary way to retract the covering was to roll it up the rafters by hand. Operable systems for both storefront and window awnings had extension arms that were hinged where they joined the facade. The arms were lowered to project the awning or raised to retract the awning using simple rope and pulley arrangements.
Because the canvas remained attached to the framework, retractable Canvas Awnings allowed a more flexible approach to shading shopkeepers and owners could incrementally adjust the amount of awning coverage depending upon the weather conditions. When the sun came out from behind clouds, the awning could be deployed with ease. In case of sudden storms, owners could quickly retract the awning against the building wall where it was protected from wind gust.