When finished in the first decade of the 20th century, the Flatiron Building was the tallest skyscraper in the world. Imagine what New York City was like when construction ended. A view from the Flatiron roof beheld nothing taller downtown but the high steeples of Trinity Church and St Paul's Chapel. At 300 feet above the street level, the view stretched amply over Madison Square Park and likewise saw nothing taller rise uptown. Buggies and horses rather than automobiles filled the lanes below. Today the structure's uniqueness lies in its design rather than height, made to squeeze into an odd space between Broadway and Fifth Avenues. Today other towers around the square happily look down upon the pleasant triangular building, whose apex aims northward as if pointing at the Empire State Building ten blocks away, four times taller than the Flatiron and now the city's tallest.
Not well known among those not from the area, or not into historic architecture, the Flatiron Building is a favorite of New Yorkers and admirers around the world. Perhaps because it symbolizes so much of how New Yorkers see themselves -- Defiant, bold, sophisticated, and interesting. With just enough embedded grime and soot to highlight its details. The Flatiron's most interesting feature is its shape -- a slender hull plowing up the streets of commerce as the bow off a great ocean liner plows through the waves of its domain. The apex of the building is just six feet wide, and expands into a limestone wedge adorned with Gothic and Renaissance details of Greek faces and terra cotta flowers. The building has two claims to fame -- one architectural, the other cultural. Some consider the Flatiron Building to be New York City's first skyscraper. It certainly was one of the first buildings in the city to employ a steel frame to hold up its 285-foot tall facade, but not the first. Some felt its shape (like a flatiron) was less artistic and more dangerous. They thought it would fall over, and during construction the Flatiron Building was nicknamed "Burnham's Folly." The building's cultural legacy is a little more interesting and has passed into the local social consciousness as a fable. It is said that the building created unusual eddies in the wind which would cause women's skirts to fly around as they walked on 23rd street. This attracted throngs of young men who gathered to view the barelegged spectacle. Police would try to disperse these knots of heavy-breathers by calling to them, "23 Skidoo." This phrase has passed out of common usage, but its descendant, the word "scram" remains in a back corner of the American lexicon.
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
We didn't make it to the Flatiron Building on this trip but we did see it from top of the Empire state building.
We have added it to our iternary for this trip.
Can you find the Flatiron building in this picture?
Also known as the Fuller Building.
the Flatiron Building is a favorite of New Yorkers and admirers around the world.
Built in 1902, it was considered the first skyscraper.
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.
Originally named the Fuller Building after the construction company that owned it, this building by Chicago architect Davit Burnham was the tallest in the world when it was completed in 1902. One of the first building to use a steel frame, it heralded the era of the skyscrapers. This unusual triangular shape building is certainly on must see activities.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.