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    Flatiron Building: Manhattan's famous 'iron' skyscraper

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    If someone asked us to design a skyscraper, almost certainly all of us would draw a tall tower with a square or rectangular base, perhaps someone would enjoy making a particular point on the top but certainly it would never occur to us to design a skyscraper with a triangular base. . But human creativity has no limits: walking between Fifth Avenue and Broadway you will find a building with a triangular base 87 meters high: you are in front of the Flatiron Building.


    • How to get to the Flatiron Building
    • How the Flatiron Building was born… and why they believed it would collapse!
    • Curiosities about the Flatiron Building
    • What to see in the Flatiron District
    • Advice on staying overnight

    How to get to the Flatiron Building

    The Flatiron Building is located at 175 Fifth Avenue, but it is actually clearly visible from all sides as it occupies an area between Fifth Avenue, Broadway, 22nd and 23rd streets. The closest metro stop is '23 Street 'on the N, Q, R, W line. Leaving the metro you will find it practically in front of you in all its grandeur.

    How the Flatiron Building was born… and why they believed it would collapse!

    Built in 1902, the Fuller Building, known by all as the Flatiron Building, is among the symbolic monuments of New York and is among the skyscrapers most photographed by tourists from all over the world. Its triangular shape turns its back on the Wall Street financial district and looks forward to the neighborhoods of wealth and aristocracy. The solid and compact structure combines with the innovative design, with the terracotta decorations and with its particular shape making it a surprising building still today as well as at the time of its construction in the early twentieth century.

    The plot of land where today stands the Flatiron District it was bought in 1857 by Amos Eno for $ 30,000. Upon his death in 1899, there were several changes of ownership until the Cumberland Realty Company bought it for $ 2 million. The company belonged to Henry S. Black, chief executive of the Fuller Company, a company specializing in the construction of skyscrapers.

    It was Black who called thearchitect Daniel Burnham, a native of Chicago, to ask him to build a tall office building in memory of George A. Fuller, the founder of the Fuller Company who had passed away a few years earlier. The building should have been called the Fuller Building, but right from the start the New Yorkers, observing its shape, called it the Flatiron Building. The term flatiron means 'iron' and it is with this name that the world knows the building and today the entire neighborhood as well.

    Burnham decided to make the most of the lot area at his disposal and created a triangular-shaped building whose tip measured only 2 meters but which rose up to 87 meters for a total of 22 floors. In 1902 this was the tallest and most innovative skyscraper in New York with its steel structure. At that time there were many people who criticized the building and who thought it would collapse due to the strong winds that blow in this specific area of ​​the city.

    Ma the Flatiron Building did not collapse and it is always there to be observed, admired and photographed. The imposing foundations, the large pillars and the steel structure protected it from winds and time. After more than a century we can say without a shadow of a doubt that Burnham, Black and the other investors were right.

    Curiosities about the Flatiron Building

    Not only the shape makes this building eccentric, here are some curiosities:

    • to reach the 21st floor it is necessary to take a second lift because the first goes up to the 20th floor. The 21st floor was in fact added in 1905;
    • although it was immediately conceived as a building to house offices, bathrooms for both men and women were not provided on the individual floors. The problem was solved by using the bathroom for men on one floor and the bathroom for women on another, alternating;
    • the windows on the top floor are very high and reach the chest;
    • the building is featured in various films: from 1958 in A Witch in Heaven with Kim Novak and James Stewart to Godzilla in 1998 when the skyscraper was destroyed by the American military and to Spider-Man where the Flatiron is the headquarters of the Daily Bugle newspaper where Peter Parker works. We also find him in the theme song of the Late Show with David Letterman and in various scenes of Friends.
    • in 2006 for a first part and then in 2009, the Michelangelo Fund bought a large part of the building on behalf of Sorgente Group SpA.
    • in 2008 the Leonardo International publishing house in editorial co-production with the Sorgente Group published a bilingual English / Spanish book with photo by Peter Kreitler entitled 'The world's first steel frame skyscraper - The first steel skyscraper in the world'

    What to see in the Flatiron District

    When the Flatiron Building was built in the early 14s, the area above XNUMXth Street was seedy and in ruins. Today, however, the Flatiron District is one of the liveliest areas of Manhattan where parks alternate with squares and restaurants of all kinds.

    From Union Square park to that of Madison Square Park strolling through the shops of 5th Avenue and Broadway will feel a relaxed air despite the frenzy of New York. From Madison Square Park on the side of the 23esima Street you will then enjoy the vista del Flatiron Building and take wonderful photos of him, listening to live music from street artists and maybe holding a hamburger from the famous Shake Shack, one of the best and most famous burgers in New York. Otherwise you will find Italian, Indian, Mexican and Asian restaurants here, all within a short distance. Do not miss the Lego shop which is located on 23rd Street just in front of the Flatiron Building.

    Advice on staying overnight

    The Flatiron Building area is also a very pleasant area to stay in, particularly convenient as it is central (you are a 10-minute walk from the Empire State Building) and well connected to the subway. For a series of accommodations available in the immediate surroundings, I refer you to this page, while for a wider search in the surroundings I recommend our in-depth study on where to sleep in the Times Square / Broadway area. For all the other recommended areas to sleep in New York, I refer you to our dedicated article:

    Recommended neighborhoods for sleeping in New York

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