The Flatiron Building
175 Fifth Avenue (at 23rd Street)
One of the most iconic buildings in NYC, the Flatiron Building is not the first triangular building, but it is the largest and most-recognizable of its kind.
In the late 1800s, the lot on which the Flatiron Building now stands was used as a sort of Times Square Marquee. The lot's owner built a sign made out of electric lights and installed a canvas screen and projector, attracting visitors to Madison Square Park to view advertisements, pictures, and news bulletins. After the owner’s death, the lot changed hands several times, eventually ending up under the ownership of Harry S. Black, CEO of the Fuller Company, a general contractor specializing in the building of skyscrapers. Black retained Chicago’s Daniel Burnham to design the company’s new headquarters on the spot. Despite his efforts, the moniker Fuller Building never caught on as locals persisted in calling the new triangular skyscraper the Flatiron Building, so-named so for its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron.
Completed in 1902, the architecture of the Flatiron Building espouses the Chicago school of design and thus differs from its contemporaries in New York. Built over a steel frame, its façade was inspired by a Greek pillar with ornate scrolling and an ornamented base and top. The pointed end of the structure is a 25 degree angle creating what some critics dubbed “a stingy piece of pie.” The building remains a functioning office building, with these “point” offices being the most coveted among the tenants.
While some hated its unusual design, the Flatiron Building came to symbolize New York and became a pop culture darling. Among its many appearances, the Flatiron Building is the headquarters for the Daily Bugle in the Spiderman movies, it is the workplace of April O’Neil in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, and it was accidentally destroyed by the US Navy in the 1998 film Godzilla. It is also considered one of the most-photographed buildings in the world – through the lens of artists (such as Alfred Steiglitz and Edward Steichen) and countless tourists each day.