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Flatiron Building

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Flatiron Building (2004)
"I found myself agape, admiring a skyscraper — the prow of the Flatiron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the late-afternoon light."
H.G. Wells, 1906

The Fuller Building or as it is better known, the Flatiron Building, was one of the tallest buildings in New York City upon its completion in 1902. The building was designed by Chicago's Daniel Burnham in the Beaux-Arts style on a triangular island block at 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue, and Broadway, facing Madison Square. Like a classical Greek column, its limestone façade is separated into three parts horizontally.

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Locals took an immediate interest in the building, placing bets on how far the debris would spread when the wind knocked it down and nicknaming it "the Flatiron" because of the building's resemblance to the irons of the day. At the rounded tip, the triangular tower is only 2 meters wide. The 22-story Flatiron Building, with a height of 87 meters (285 ft), is generally considered the oldest surviving skyscraper in Manhattan, though in fact the older Park Row Building (1899) is several stories taller.

The aerodynamic shape of the building led to a wind-tunnel effect up the streets on which it was situated. It is said that in the building's early days, when a lady's bare ankle was a titillating sight, rogués would line up along the sidewalk to catch glimpses. Police officers would then shoo the men away from their 23rd Street loitering positions; they called this the "23 skidoo." See the 23 skidoo entry for competing explanations of the term.

Today the Flatiron is a popular spot for tourist photographs, a National Historic Landmark, and a functioning office building, currently home to several book publishers. The surrounding area of Manhattan is named the Flatiron District for its signature building.

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Flatiron Building (1903)

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