17 Interesting Facts About The Flatiron Building

Facts about the Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building in New York is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Do you know all the facts about the Flatiron Building?

It’s a 22-story building that was constructed back in 1902. It’s unique because of its location and its triangular shape.

The Flatiron building is located on a triangular block that is formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and East 22nd Street. The backend is located on 22 East Street and the thin top is located at 23 East Street.

It’s undoubtedly one of the most iconic landmarks in New York City.

Interesting facts about the Flatiron Building

1. Eno’s Flatiron

The flatiron shaped piece of land was previously owned by New York real estate magnate called Amos Eno.

He refused to sell his land for all his life, but when he passed away in 1899 it went up for sale.

Amos Eno is best known for building the Fifth Avenue Hotel, which was demolished in 1908.

A plaque on the Toy Center which currently occupies the space where the Fifth Avenue Hotel used to stand still commemorates it.

Fifth avenue hotel
Fifth Avenue Hotel / Wiki Commons

2. Originally The Fuller Building

When the Flatiron Building was erected back in 1902, it was inaugurated as the “Fuller Building.”

The Fuller Company, from which the original name was derived, was a company specializing in skyscrapers.

In fact, the founder of the company, George A. Fuller is often referred to as the “father of the skyscrapers.”

Fuller died two years before the building was completed, and locals insisted it should be named the “Flatiron Building,” just as how they used to call the piece of land it stands on “Eno’s Flatiron.”

The Fuller Company, which went public in 1902, moved into the real “Fuller Building” in 1928.

Fuller Building / Amricasroof / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

3. Let’s call the whole area Flatiron

In a report created by WLIW, the Flatiron Building has been referred to as “one of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers and a quintessential symbol of New York City.”

Because of its popularity, the whole area surrounding the building has been renamed to the “Flatiron District.”

The name dates only from 1985, as the neighborhood had transformed into a residential area and most real estate companies already referred to it as such.

Flatiron District
The Flatiron District / Source

3. First Skyscraper

The Flatiron Building was one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street (and the only one until 1908). the other one was the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower which was located just one block east.

At the time it was completed in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in New York City with its 20 floors and being 285-foot (86.9 m) tall.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower in 1908
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower in 1908 / Wiki Commons

4. A Change in law made the construction possible

In 1892, the New York City building codes underwent some changes. From then on, it became allowed to build structures using steel-skeletons rather than masonry.

This was a law regarding fire safety. The Fuller Company was well experienced in creating structures with this technique.

Had the law not been adjusted, building the Flatiron Building would have been illegal.

Flatiron Building construction
Flatiron Building construction / Wiki Commons

5. First time to see a steel structure

The picture above is quite unique. It’s the first time a building with a steel structure could be witnessed by the public.

What really surprised the people was the pace at which the building was built using this new technique when construction started.

BY February 1902 the steel structure was completed and by mid-May, the building was half-covered by terra-cotta tiling.

The entire building was completed shortly after in June.

Flatiron Building shortly after construction was completed
Flatiron Building shortly after construction was completed / Wiki Commons

6. The initial response wasn’t too positive

While most New Yorkers at the time agreed that the Flatiron Building was an amazing looking building, there were some critics as well.

The most known criticism was described as the “Burnham’s Folly.” Burnham was the main designer, and critics assumed that because of the shape and narrowness of the building, it would collapse.

Obviously, steel structures were something new and critics didn’t know any better at that time.

Right now, the Flatiron Building is still one of the most iconic landmarks in all of New York City.

The Iconic Flatiron Building
The Iconic Flatiron Building / Pixabay

7. Hydraulic elevators are slow

If you lived or worked on one of the top floors of the Flatiron Building before the 40s, you were in bad luck.

The original elevators used to work with a hydraulic system. This means that the elevators go up and down through water pressure.

This is much slower than the elevators we know today.

It’s been claimed that if you went into the elevator in the lobby and wanted to go to the top floor it could take up to 10 minutes.

13th floor of the Flatiron Building
13th floor of the Flatiron Building / Source

8. Home to contributors of pulp magazines

In our extensive post related to one of the best movies ever created, Pulp Fiction from Quinten Tarantino, we make reference to where the name comes from.

Pulp magazines were inexpensive fiction magazines printed from 1896 until 1950. Pulp Fiction got its name from these magazines.

The Flatiron Building penthouse, which was constructed 3 years after the main building was finished, was rented out to several artists working on pulp magazines.

One of these artists was the American illustrator Louis Fancher.

Pulp magazine cover
Pulp magazine cover / Wiki Commons

9. The Flatiron restaurant

Broadway is a place full of theatres in New York City. The Flatiron restaurant was the place where they could get something to eat while going out.

The huge cellar had space to seat over 1,500 people. The restaurant was located in the huge vault below the building and went more than 20 feet (6.1 m) under the surrounding streets.

Flatiron Building Broadway
Flatiron Building Near Broadway / Pixabay

10. The Flatiron nightclub

In 1911, a nightclub opened in the basement as well.

What’s remarkable about this club is that it’s the first club to allow a black Jazz band to perform.

This is how New Yorkers in the early 1900s got introduced to the musical genre called ragtime which peaked in popularity in between 1895 and 1919.

Ragtime
Ragtime / Wiki Commons

11. Not much has been done to the building’s interior

The building had been rented for many decades by a publishing company called Macmillan.

They have done some repairs and renovations, the building hasn’t seen much change and slowly deteriorated.

It also doesn’t have central airconditioning and uses an outdated heating system with cast-iron radiators.

So while the building is a remarkable landmark, it appears that time inside the building has been standing still for a very long time.

Inside the Flatiron Building
Inside the Flatiron Building / Source

12. Some more, weird interior features

Apart from the decline of the interior’s design and main functions, there are some other odd things about the interior which could use a change.

  • Male and female bathrooms are on separate floors. Male bathrooms are on even floors and female bathrooms are on odd floors.
  • There’s only a single staircase in case evacuation is needed.
  • To reach the top floor on the 21st floor, you need to take a separate elevator on the 20th floor.
  • On the 21st floor, the bottom of the windows is chest-high.
Top of flatiron building
Top of the Flatiron Building / Pixabay

13. Finally time for renovations

The only remaining tenant, the publishing company Macmillan, has left the building on June 14, 2019.

This means that all 21 floors are vacant at this moment.

The owner of the building, GFP Real Estate, plans to spend up to $80 Million to upgrade the interior of the building to modern standards.

What remains clear though is that the Flatiron Building will always preserve what it was built for, which is to serve as a commercial building.

Flatiron Building top floors
Flatiron Building top floors / Pixabay

14. It’s a popular tourist spot

As one of the most iconic buildings in New York, it retains its charm amongst people visiting the city.

Tourists flock together to see this peculiar building in real life, and more importantly, capture it.

Without having any certainty about this statement, it’s “possibly one of the most photographed buildings in the world.”

Flatiron Building side view
Flatiron Building side view / Pixabay

15. It’s a symbol of New York

I’m sure you know how TV-programs sometimes use shots of particular landmarks to create a sense as to where the show is located.

The Flatiron Building has been used as a symbol of New York City in many television productions.

These include:

  • Friends
  • Spin City
  • Veronica’s Closet
  • The late show with David Letterman
Flatiron Building street view
Flatiron Building street view / Pixabay

16. It starred in more productions

The Flatiron Building has been the star of several other productions. here are some examples:

  • The Flatiron Building is accidentally destroyed by the US Army while they try to get a hold of Godzilla.
  • It’s the headquarters of the “Daily Bugle” for which Peter Parker is a freelance photographer in the Spider-Man movies.
  • It’s the location of the Channel 6 News headquarters, the place April O’Neil works in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” TV series.
  • It’s also the home of the fictional company Damage Control. This company appears in the Marvel Universe comics and for the CIA-sponsored superhero management team “The Boys” in the Dynamite Comics title of the same name.
Flatiron Building and taxis
Flatiron Building and taxis / Pixabay

17. Flatiron Lego Building

The Lego Architecture series, a sub-product of the main lego brand included the Flatiron Building in their landmark collections.

This means that you can attempt to recreate the building at home.

Better yet, there’s a whole New York City set which includes not just the Flatiron Building but a whole range of other New York City landmarks.

New York City lego

This ends our list with facts about the Flatiron Building. If you enjoyed this post, please check out some related posts about the Brooklyn Bridge or the Jefferson memorial.

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