175 – 183 Fifth Avenue, The Flatiron Building

A whole book could be written about the Flatiron Building – and one has.

For the purposes of this blog it is enough to say that this masterwork of the famed Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham was originally known as the Fuller Building after the construction company that commissioned it and took on its present name due to perceived resemblance to a clothes iron; that at 21 stories in height it was the tallest building in the district in 1902 (but, contrary to popular belief, it was neither New York’s tallest building nor its first skyscraper); that Burnham’s dictum: “Make no little plans: they have not the power to stir men’s blood” sees its fullest expression in New York here; that the Flatiron Building is thought to be one of the most photographed structures in the world and was the subject of numerous pictures and paintings, including works by Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen; and that the phrase “23 skidoo” has been attributed to police shooing away loiterers hoping for a glimpse of female ankle revealed by the long dresses of the period being blown upwards by the building’s unexpected cross-drafts (which, one supposes, led to more “stirring of men’s blood”).

Simply put, the Flatiron Building is one of New York’s supreme architectural achievements. Once seen, it is never forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.