The Flatiron Building isn’t the only triangular building in New York, but it’s undoubtedly the best recognized – perhaps for its ornate decoration as well as for its quirky shape.
The 21-story steel-frame skyscraper is at the northern end of the Ladies Mile shopping district, considered “uptown” when built in 1902. Folk lore has it that those ladies were frequent victims of the Flatiron Building: It created unpredictable winds that sent skirts billowing. Police had to disperse oglers – coining the phrase “23 skidoo” in the process.
Like other early skyscrapers, Flatiron Building had a tripartite design – modeled after a classical column with a distinct base, shaft and capital. All three facades are ornamented from top to bottom – including statuary at the 21st floor.
The building’s owner, George A. Fuller, insisted on the glass-and-iron “cowcatcher” store – over the objections of the architect. And apparently the 21st floor penthouse was also a last-minute addition; the building’s elevators only go up to 20.
If you think the Flatiron Building is quirky on the outside, read The New York Times’ column about life on the inside.
Flatiron Building is just one of more than two dozen architectural landmarks within a few blocks radius. Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership conducts free walking tours every Sunday at 11 a.m. – meet at the SW corner of Madison Square Park, in front of the William Seward statue. (You may also enjoy our earlier gallery, “Flatiron Building and Vicinity.”)
Flatiron Building Vital Statistics
- Location: 175 Fifth Avenue/949 Broadway at E 23rd Street
- Year completed: 1902
- Architect: Daniel H. Burnham
- Floors: 21
- Style: French Renaissance
- New York City Landmark: 1966
- National Register of Historic Places: 1979
Flatiron Building Recommended Reading
- Wikipedia entry
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
- The New York Times article (life in the Flatiron)
- Flatiron Partnership tour information