One of the most iconic buildings in New York City, the Flatiron Building was named because of its triangular shape that resembles an old-fashioned cast iron flatiron. The Flatiron Building is a New York City Landmark as well as a National Historic Landmark.
- In 1857, Amos Enos bought the land that the Flatiron Building would later sit on. He constructed apartments and commercial buildings on the land. On one of these buildings, he set up a huge canvas screen. The New York Times used the screen for many years to display news messages. Thousands of people gathered in Madison Gardens to watch the screen on election night as they waited for results.
- After Amos’ death, the property was purchased by his son who later sold it. The original buildings were torn down and developers began work on the Flatiron Building. Its steel frame went up very quickly and it was completed in 1902.
- Critics hated the building. Some said its triangular shape wasn’t structurally sound and it created a wind tunnel through the street. They believed heavy storms would bring it down. Others said it was ugly. The New York Times declared it a “monstrosity,” and the New York Tribune said it was the “greatest inanimate troublemaker in New York.”
- Artists and photographers liked it though. They said it resembled a large ocean liner moving through the city.
- The building’s first tenants included a publisher, insurance company, cigar shop, and a restaurant. The building had 22 stories and was one of the tallest buildings in New York when it was first built.
- Iconic: a recognizable and popular or beloved symbol
- Inanimate: not alive
- Wind tunnel: a structure that channels the wind, causing a strong force
Questions and Answers
Question: Is the building a wind tunnel as critics said it would be?
Answer: Yes, the intersection at which the building sits does get very windy, but the building’s steel structure was engineered to withstand the wind.
Watch a video about the Flatiron Building.