There’s so much to say about New York City and its history that we wouldn’t know where to start. Thankfully, this vibrant painting by an artist named Lin guides the way to a more directed discussion: it shows the Flatiron Building on the corner of 175 Fifth Avenue. This skyscraper, completed in 1902, gets its name from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothing iron.
If you had to pick a U.S. city for its architecture, New York City would win hands down. The city’s architecture gives a romantic view of city life with its skyscrapers and impressive skyline. And so many of its skyscrapers are known by name – the Chrysler building, the Empire State Building, etc.
And the Flatiron Building deserves a mention of its own. It was declared a New York City landmark in 1966, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and named a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
The building was constructed despite the decline of the nearby neighborhood at the time. Citizens insisted on calling it the Flatiron despite its given name, the Fuller Building, so-called after the “father of the skyscraper” George A. Fuller.
Originally after its construction, NYC citizens placed bets on how far the building’s debris would go after it collapsed from the wind. They thought that Daniel Burnham’s design would make the building susceptible to easily blowing over. However, its steel bracing was designed to withstand up to four times the amount of wind force than could be expected to ever pass through the area. The bets were off, and the Flatiron stayed.
Today, the building functions as an office building, although its unique shape creates odd, cramped offices, with walls cutting through rooms at angles. Also, a second elevator has to be taken from the 20th floor to reach the 21st, thanks to the floor’s addition three years after the rest of the building was completed.
It has its oddities, but the Flatiron Building has firmly rooted itself in NYC soil as an integral part of the city. Keep an eye out for its use or appearance in multiple TV shows and movies, like Godzilla (1998) and Spider-Man movies.