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An early skyscraper
After our visit to New York’s newest skyscraper, the Hearst Tower (see above), we headed to one of its oldest, the Flatiron Building. When it was constructed in 1902 this was one of the tallest buildings in New York City and is considered one of the first skyscrapers.
The building famously took its name from the shape forced on it by the triangular lot it was built on, just like a clothes iron. It is constructed in the Beaux Arts style, with a limestone and glazed terra-cotta façade over a steel skeleton (one of the first buildings to be built by this method, which is why it could be so much higher than most at the time). It had been cleaned up since our previous visit to the city and I was pleased to see that the elaborate detailing on the terracotta was so much easier to pick out and admire (see photo 3).
Do go into the lobby to see the small exhibition there about the building’s history, with lots of fascinating old photos. When it was first built many people thought that its ultra-thin shape would lead it to blow down in the first strong wind, and placed bets on how far the debris would spread. The author H.G. Wells was impressed however:
“found myself agape, admiring a skyscraper – the prow of the Flatiron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the late-afternoon light.”
While more recent and probably more spectacular skyscrapers have somewhat inured us to such sights, you will still be impressed I think by the striking shape of the Flatiron Building and it’s a great example of early New York architecture.
The first Skycraper in the world
It is not well known among tourists, or those, who are not interested in historical architecture. the 22-story Flatiron Building designed in the Beaux-Arts style, is a favorite of New Yorkers. It is considered the first and the oldest surviving Skycraper with its height of 87 m though in fact the Park Row Building is older and taller.
When completed, the Fuller Building, as it was originally known, caused a sensation. Architect Daniel Burnham made ingenious use of the triangular wedge of land at 23rd Street, 5th Avenue, and Broadway, using a revolutionary steel frame. Covered with a limestone and white terra-cotta skin in the Italian Renaissance style, the building was called Flatiron because of its shape resembling a clothing iron. During construction some thought it would fall over and the building was nicknamed Burnham's Folly.
The wind-tunnel effect around the building became also popular, groups of men would gather, to watch women walking by have their skirts blown up.
The building originally housed a restaurant and an observation deck on the 21st floor, now are long closed to the public.
It was featured in the Spiderman movies as the office of the newspaper, the Daily Bugle.
Today you can visit only the small lobby to look at photos, but otherwise the building is best enjoyed from Madison Square, across the street. The lobby is located in the middle of the long facades, with entrances from both sides to publishing houses and stores, such as Zara, Bebe, BCBG and H & M for younger shoppers.
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Every town should have one!
The Flatiron Building was New Yorks first skyscraper, completed in 1902.
Apparently at the time, New Yorkers were scared it was going to fall down!!
It is a fabulous triangular tower and is only six feet wide at its rounded narrow end.
The design really makes it stand out as one of the truely special New York buildings.
It is a surprise when you are walking up 5th Avenue and you come across it - very cool!
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Triangular like a Clothes Iron, hence the name, and the neighborhoods name. I work across the street from this piece of pie in the Toy Building and have a profile view from my office window. Its at a extremely busy intersection where Broadway, 5th avenue and 23 street all meet and make a pretzel of each other. Just north east of it is the Madison Square Park which I have Luncheons on the Grass within. Go into this park its beautiful and lively during the lunch hour. There is also nice views of the surrounding buildings from this vantage point.
At a certain angle you can make this building look like just a flat wall.
One of the first ever "cast-iron" buildings.
The triangle made by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and 23rd St is the site of one of New York's most famous early skyscrapers : the Flatiron Building (originally named the Fuller building, after the construction company that owned it).
Some more facts about the Flatiron building :
The "angels" you see on top of the building are not the originals but reproductions from photographs - the originals are lost. The recently installed ones are said to look more adult.
There are two very common misconceptions about this popular building :
-that it was the first NYC building to use an iron cast
-that it was briefly the tallest buildig in the world.
-The first steel-frame building in NYC was the Tower Building, built in 1888 by Bradford Lee Gilbert at 50 Broadway. It was, however, demolished later.
-At the time the Flatiron Building was completed in 1902, the Park Row building was taller.
By heck, you should see the size of the shirts...
Everyone who visits New York, must come away with an impression of their favourite building.
For some it will be avant-garde design of the Guggenheim, for others the dainty top of the Chrysler, or the sheer character of the Empire state.
Personally I preferred a skyscraper with a bit of human scale to it - the Flatiron building fits the bill for me. It's not in fact the oldest skyscraper in New York, but it must be one of the most photogenic - Indeed whilst we passed by a photo-shoot was in progress.
When it was built the locals apparently thought the wind would topple the structure and bets were taken about how far the debris would fall - but it's still standing resolutely well over 100 years later.
Another example of the diverse NY architecture: the Flatiron building. Facing it, it indeed looks like an iron and if you look from a specific angle, the building is nearly flat. This particular form was determined by the unusually shaped plot of land on which it was built, during the late 20's.
Originally called the Fuller Building after the first occupant, the Fuller Construction Company, the triangular shape resembling a flat iron gave the building its nickname which stuck. The unusual shape was necessary to conform to a triangular piece of land at Broadway and 5th Avenue, at it's narrowest it is only 6 feet wide.
It was built by famous Chicago architect Daniel Burnham in 1902-1903, influenced by architectural trends introduced at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago which he was heavily involved with, elements of French and Italian Renaissance architecture are present on the building.
It is said that the building created a wind tunnel effect causing women's skirts to fly around as they walked on 23rd street, attracting throngs of young men. Police would try to disperse them by calling to them "23 Skidoo", a slang expression no longer commonly used, but its descendant, "scram", remains in use today.
The Flatiron Building is featured as the Daily Bugle Office in Spiderman 1 and 2.
And although often reported as such, it wasn't New York City's first skyscraper, first steel-skeleton building or ever the world's tallest building.
Our hotel was right around the corner from the flatiron building, and this is my favourite skyscraper in New York, because of its unusual shape and amazing detail. It was completed in 1903 and for a short while, the tallest skyscraper in New York.
What a unique building
It's the Flatiron Building, called that because it's in the Flatiron District. It's sort of "wedged in" where 5th Avenue and Broadway meet, hence it's unique shape.
Cross 23rd Street and you're in Madison Square Park. Union Square Park is just a little further downtown. Chelsea's not too far from here either.
A signature NYC building, in a pretty cool NYC neighborhood
When this building went up in 1902 it was considered to be one of the first skyscrapers a bit of a laugh by todays standards. It is a 21 storey limestone & glazed terra-cotta building nicknamed Burnhams Folly. It is extremely narrow 6 feet across is the narrowest point. The phrase 23 skidoo came from this area with ladies skirts blowing up in this particular area.
A number of the most impressive buildings in the US are located here. Some have been around since turn of the century, and others recnet additions. The architecture is to admire and wonder how they were able to design usefulness and functinality at the same time. Maybe not all did. The Flatiron is one of the most impressive architecturally. Built in 1903, it is 6 feet wide at narrow point, and built this way because that is the way the lot was when purchased. The decor is called Beaux art style. It is called flatiron because of the shape/design looking like and iron.
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Unique Building Dominates District
The Flatiron Building will immediately attract your attention due to its unusual shape and beautiful workmanship, it stands out like a beacon when you visit Madison Square Park. Once the world's tallest building (1903) it still remains one of the most viewed buildings in New York City. It was one of the first buildings to be built using a steel frame and its Italian Renaissance decoration is mostly in terra cotta.
The building has the district named after it "Flatiron District".
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The Flatiron Building was constructed between 1901 and 1903 at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue, at the time one of the most prominent sites. It is located near Madison Square at the end of the Ladies Mile, one of Manhattan's most important shopping districts at the turn of the 19th century.
The Flatiron Building was designed by Chicago's Daniel Burnham as a steel-frame skyscraper clad in white terra-cotta. At 21 stories and 307 ft (93 meter), it was one of the city's tallest buildings. It was not - as is often incorrectly thought - the tallest building in the world or even the tallest building in New York (these titles belonged to the Park Row building, built in 1899), but its singular shape and prominent location soon made it one of New York City's most famous landmarks. It probably featured on more postcards than any other contemporary building. Even the whole area, the Flatiron district, was named after the building. Originally the Flatiron building featured an observatory on the top floor, but taller buildings have taken over this function. It is still however a tourist attractions, and one of the most photographed landmarks in New York.
Built as the headquarters of the Fuller Construction company, the skyscraper was meant to be named Fuller Building. But the building was soon dubbed 'Flatiron' after its unusual shape, caused by the triangular plot. Even though the plot is a right triangle while a clothing iron is an isosceles triangle, the name stuck and the building was officially renamed Flatiron Building. The Fuller company built another Fuller Building in 1929.
The Flatiron Building was given another nickname: 'Burnham's Folly'. Many people at the time thought Daniel Burnham's triangular design combined with the building's exceptional height would not withstand strong winds. Some were even speculating how far the building's debris would spread after falling over. Well, as I was visiting NYC, it was still standing...
The Flatiron Building has famously been featured in many movies and is seen on numerous TV programmes. Its also famous for once being the world's tallest building (285 feet) until 1909 when it was overtaken by the nearby Metropolitan Life Building.
Apologies for the poor picture quality, it was a very very rainy day. The front of the building is also covered in Mesh as they are doing some refurbishments.
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