Feb. 11, 2016: Flatiron Building, New York City

 

When my wife and I visited New York City, we had quite a long list of things that we wanted to see, one of which was the iconic Flatiron Building.  We knew we had a big area to cover, so one day we decided to take a bus tour of the city, specifically Manhattan.  On a beautiful sunny spring day, we were sitting in the front row of an open Double Decker bus enjoying the sights.  As we were cruising down a busy Manhattan street, there, in the distance, was the Flatiron Building.  As luck would have it, as we got closer to this quintessential symbol of New York City, our bus had to stop for a red light, so I managed to get a few pictures of this very unique building.

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Built during 1901 to 1903 and destined to become the headquarters of the Fuller Construction company, this 22-story skyscraper was meant to be named the Fuller Building. But locals soon dubbed it 'Flatiron' after its unusual shape, caused by the triangular plot of land it sits on (a triangular block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street, with 23rd Street grazing the triangle's northern (uptown) peak). Even though the plot is a right triangle while a clothing iron is an isosceles triangle, the name stuck and the building was officially renamed Flatiron Building. Incidentally, in 1929 the Fuller company built another, much taller Fuller Building at 57th Street and Madison Avenue.

The Flatiron building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

The Flatiron Building has been frequently used on television commercials, sitcoms, movies, and documentaries, as it is an easily recognizable symbol of New York City.   Examples include the opening credits of the Late Show with David Letterman, or in scenes of New York City that are shown during scene transitions in the TV sitcoms Friends, Spin City, and Veronica's Closet.  In the 1998 film Godzilla, the Flatiron Building is accidentally destroyed by the US Army while in pursuit of Godzilla, and it is depicted as the headquarters of the Daily Bugle, for which Peter Parker is a freelance photographer, in the Spider-Man movies.  It is shown as the location of the Channel 6 News headquarters where April O'Neil works in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series. The Flatiron Building is also the home of the fictional company Damage Control in the Marvel Universe comics and for the CIA sponsored, super hero management team "The Boys" in the Dynamite Comics title of the same name. Its exterior was also used in the 2014 action film John Wick, as the outside of the fictional assassin's lair "The Continental".

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Glad you grabbed one of my favorites! Even though it's sometimes had embarrassingly badly-dressed stores in the base, it's always had a real dignity to it.

Incidentally, it was New York's first building with a steel skeleton instead of masonry, which allowed it to be built very rapidly. In a way, it was an advertisement for its owner, the Fuller company (still a major builder). Daniel Burnham was the architect—which doesn't mean the building was popular when new!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Incidentally, as you can see, it IS more or less the shape of a flatiron, and not a right triangle...

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Hmmmmm...looking at the picture you posted of the roof of the Flatiron Building Paul, it looks like a right angle triangle to me.  There's only one way to settle this...my wife and I would love to visit New York again.  So, one day (hopefully sooner than later) we'll have to meet on the Flatiron roof...I'll bring a carpenter square.  If I'm right, you owe me a Guinness.  If you're right, I'll buy you a delicious beverage of your choosing.  Either way, visiting Manhattan again and meeting you is a win win in my books.

Love to meet you there (or anywhere, since I don't think there's public access to the roof!)...and I'll be glad to buy the Guinness, since it turns out I was wrong about the triangle...the corner of 22nd St. and 5th Avenue is the right angle.

You might find this article about it interesting: The Museum of Math did what might be called a performance piece, with 500 mathematicians measuring it in lightsticks and applying the Pythagorean theorem...

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

HI there, Great post. We were in NYC last October and this was definitely something my husband really wanted to see. Have to admit it is pretty cool to see in person. Thanks for all the info and happy memories.  

Hello Paul and Samantha : )

Paul, I do hope that one day we will have the opportunity to meet.  Thank you for your insight of the Flatiron Building.  You indeed are a good sport.

Samantha, I am glad you enjoyed my post of the Flatiron Building.  You sum it very nicely by saying that seeing this building in person is pretty cool. 

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