Broadway shows aren’t the only thing to see on Broadway. The Flatiron Building in New York City is yet another of the iconic structures that make New York City a famed destination for even the most casual fan of American architecture. Located at the crossing of 5th Avenue, Broadway Avenue, and 23rd Street in Manhattan , this triangular building, originally named the Fuller Building, has almost always been called the Flatiron Building because of its resemblance to a clothing iron. New York City tours of architecture will prominently include this turn-of-the-century gem.
Flat Iron Building
Flatiron Building history is especially interesting because the building, finished in 1902, was one of New York City’s very first examples of the skyscraper genre of architecture. Though the Flatiron Building in New York City stands only 285 feet, at the time it was built, locals fully expected the building to be knocked over during the first strong wind. Built by Daniel F. Burnham and Company of Chicago, the Flatiron Building has a steel skeleton (3,680 tons of steel, to be exact), an earmark of skyscraper construction, as well as having tripartite divisions: a base , a shaft , and a capital . The base of the Flatiron Building contains the first couple of floors, which are wider than the shaft , which spans up the Flatiron Building to the capital , or the ornate exterior of the uppermost floors. Combining Renaissance Revival detail with Beaux Arts style in a skyscraper, Flatiron Building history is a significant part of the history of urban architecture in the United States.
The Flatiron Building sits at a major intersection in New York City, and permanently represents a turn-of-the-century America which also found itself at a crossroads. “I found myself agape, admiring a skyscraper — the prow of the Flatiron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the late-afternoon light," noted author H.G. Wells said in 1906, a quote that embodies the feeling of a surprised people, getting a small glimpse in the Flatiron Building of the New York City that was to come. The Flatiron Building not only ploughs through Broadway, it was a forerunner that paved the way for such giants as the Chrysler Building and The Empire State Building . Today, the structure is home to the offices of several book publishers, and continues to make its way into popular culture through film and photograph.
Aside from the rich Flatiron Building history that can be encountered here, this building is worth a visit today, if only just to take a picture here. Don’t think your photo will win any awards for originality, though. The Flatiron Building in New York is one of the world’s most photographed buildings, both by amateurs and professionals. But this fact alone should give you the clue that it is worth stopping at the Flatiron Building just to take in the visual wonder with your own eyes. Perhaps a stop at the Flatiron Building could be part of a longer excursion downtown to the World Trade Center Site , or on your way to the Staten Island Ferry headed for the Statue of Liberty .
The Flatiron Building is a beautiful, innovative piece of architecture that continues to function over a century after its completion, and is certainly worth a close look as a part of your New York City vacation.