A famous and iconic skyscraper in the Big Apple, unforgettable for its unusual triangular plan which earned it the nickname “flat iron” (Flatiron Building), coined by New Yorkers themselves.
The building, in Beaux-Arts style, was built on a triangular lot; it is located in Manhattan on 23rd Street, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, which intersect at an acute angle.
The charisma of the building gave its name to the neighborhood, the Flatiron District, a dynamic, busy area full of attractions, which extends from 20th Street in the south to 25th Street in the north.
In addition to the “Iron”, you will certainly notice the Metropolitan Life Tower, a sort of lookalike of the bell tower of San Marco, but more than 200 meters high!
In nearby Madison Square Park you can enjoy a bit of relaxation, in the midst of the frenzy of New York, listening to some live music from street artists, and perhaps savoring an excellent burger at Shake Shack.
Almost certainly, the squirrels that emerge from the greenery will ask you for a piece.
From the park you can also admire the Empire State Building and, if you have children, stay and let them have fun in the play area.
There are also many restaurants in the area, and at 200, on the corner of 23rd Street, there is the headquarters of Eataly New York, housed in a historic building.
However, if you are a child inside, know that in front of the Flatiron there is a nice Lego store (200 5th Ave).
And what about shopping, especially for women? Suffice it to say that in the past the neighborhood was nicknamed “Ladies’ Mile” due to the many shops that the ladies were passionate about; today it is still like this.
The Flatiron Building is located in Midtown Manhattan, therefore in a very central area. It is very likely that you will arrive here by following an itinerary or simply by taking a nice walk on 5th Avenue, perhaps before or after visiting the Empire State Building, which is nearby.
But if you want to start your day from here, these are the subway lines closest to the Flatiron Building:
from Times Square: if you are staying in this area the N, Q, R, W lines stop right in front and you will have to get off at the 23rd Street station, which is located right on Broadway;
from Grand Central Terminal: if you are staying in the eastern part of Manhattan, take the subway 6 and get off at the 23rd Street station, which is located on Park Avenue, so from here you will have to walk 2 blocks (3 minutes).
The construction company Fuller Construction & Co. commissioned the famous Chicago architect, Daniel Burnham, to create a building intended to house offices.
The Flatiron was completed in 1902 and, not surprisingly, was actually called the Fuller Building, named after the company, whose goal (which in fact was not realized) was to make the area a new business center in city, Wall Street style.
The decision regarding the triangular shape of the building was not a whim of the architect, as one might think, but his original stylistic solution.
The lot on which the building was to be built, in fact, had exactly that shape, given that the intersection of 5th Avenue and Broadway is at an acute angle. Let us remember, in fact, that Broadway – with the exception of the grid street structure – runs diagonally across Manhattan.
Since 2009, the skyscraper has been majority owned by one of the real estate funds of Sorgente Group S.p.A. Unfortunately, the interior cannot be visited as it is still occupied by private apartments and offices.
Curiosities about the Flatiron Building
The building has been a symbol of New York since its birth: such a bold and innovative building, in fact, immediately embodied New York’s ambition to become a city with vertical development and the fulcrum of an advanced economy.
The architect designed the rounded corners of the building to give the idea, from some perspectives, of observing a column right in the heart of Manhattan. Its 22 floors are therefore divided into 3 distinct sections just like in the columns of classical Greece, and include a base (in limestone), a central body (in which the limestone alternates with terracotta panels) and a terminal part.
The Flatiron was one of the first buildings in New York equipped with a fire prevention system and in which electric elevators were installed (which replaced the previous hydraulic versions).
New Yorkers immediately liked the building, but many raised doubts about its stability, and there were bets on how long the Flatiron would be able to resist the powerful gusts of wind that blow where it was built. Whoever predicted that the skyscraper would last a long time won the bet, given that it is still among us!
The palace can be seen in many films and TV series, for example: A Witch in Paradise from 1958, Godzilla from 1998, Spider-Man (in this case the Flatiron is the headquarters of the newspaper where Peter Parker works), Friends.
How to explain the style, i.e. a combination of Renaissance and Gothic motifs? It was a typical trend of the period. In fact, the richest people in the city, feeling like the patrons of ancient times, commissioned the construction of buildings that also drew on the styles of the past.
Because of the shape of the building, winds whip around it, and in the early 1900s, large groups of men gathered on 23rd Street to see women’s legs, as the air lifted their skirts. The police often had to clear the area (to skidoo), and it is likely that on that occasion the American slang expression “23 skiddoo” was born, which refers to a quick start, the obligation to leave quickly.
The Flatiron probably brings good luck! In fact, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the area on which it stands was in ruins and infamous: today, however, it is beautiful.
The Flatiron Building is 86.9 meters high, and as we said there are 22 floors.
Yes, it’s a little guy, compared to other buildings in New York (for example, think of the Empire State Building which is 381 meters tall or the One World Trade Center which reaches 541 meters).
Yet, at the time of its construction it was a “tall” building, and it also stood out because it stood out quite a bit in the context of the area, which in the early twentieth century was a small town and certainly not a metropolis like the current one.
The height of the building, a record for the time, was possible thanks to the use of an all-steel frame.
Do you know how wide the tip of the building is? Only 2 meters! So, today the Flatiron is certainly not the tallest skyscraper in the world, but it is certainly the narrowest