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.
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.
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.
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.
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.