Flatiron Building New York City

Flatiron Building New York City

Twenty-three skidoo was a happening at a triangular site where Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet. The juxtaposition of the streets and a nearby park caused a wind-tunnel effect   In the early twentieth century, men would hang out on the corner of Twenty-third Street and watch the wind blowing women’s dresses up, so that they could catch a little bit of ankle. This entered into popular culture and there are hundreds of postcards and illustrations of women with their dresses blowing up in front of the Flatiron Building. And it supposedly is where the slang expression “23 skidoo” comes from because the police would come and give the voyeurs the 23 skidoo to get them out of the area.

Flatiron drawing by James Gulliver Hancock

Flatiron drawing by Illustrator James Gulliver Hancock

The now familiar distinctive triangular shape of the Flatiron Building, designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and built in 1902, fills the wedge-shaped property. The 22-story iconic office building has been one of New York City’s most dramatic enduring symbols of the city since its birth. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. It is popular with photographers, artists and illustrators.

View looking south (downtown) from the Empire State Building at part of the Flatiron District. The Flatiron Building is the triangular building at right center. To the left is the Met Life Tower, with Madison Square Park in front. Between the park and the tower, at street level, Madison Avenue begins at 23rd Street and runs uptown (toward bottom of image). Madison Square is the intersection in front of the Flatiron, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway cross. (Fifth goes to the right, Broadway to the left.) The trees of Union Square Park can be seen in the top left of the image.

View looking south (downtown) from the Empire State Building at part of the Flatiron District. The Flatiron Building is the triangular building at right center. To the left is the Met Life Tower, with Madison Square Park in front. Between the park and the tower, at street level, Madison Avenue begins at 23rd Street and runs uptown (toward bottom of image). Madison Square is the intersection in front of the Flatiron, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway cross. (Fifth goes to the right, Broadway to the left.) The trees of Union Square Park can be seen in the top left of the image.

The neighborhood around it is called the Flatiron District . The designation is of relatively recent vintage, dating from around 1985, and came about because of its increasingly residential character and the influx of many restaurants into the area. Before that, the area was commercial, with numerous small clothing and toy manufacturers, and was sometimes called the Toy District. Later, the toy businesses moved outside the U.S. and then the area began to be referred to as the Photo District—because of the large number of photographers’ studios and associated businesses located there, the photographers having come because of the relatively cheap rents.

Flatiron photo by Steichen

Flatiron photo by Steichen

Popular photographers like Stieglitz and Steichen photographed the building, along with artists and illustrators who all took the Flatiron as the subject of their work.

As of the 2000’s, many publishers have their offices in the district, as well as advertising agencies. The number of computer- and web-related start up companies in the area caused it to be considered part of “Silicon Alley” or “Multimedia Gulch”, along with TriBeCa and SoHo, although this usage declined considerably after the dot.com bubble burst.

Flatiron by photographer Stieglitz

Flatiron by photographer Stieglitz

Today, the Flatiron Building is frequently used on television commercials and documentaries as an easily recognizable symbol of the city, and in scenes of New York City that are shown during scene transitions in TV sitcoms and other shows and publications.

What is your favorite place in NYC? Have you visited the Flatiron District? Quite interesting with its museums, restaurants and shoppes.

 

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