The Flatiron Building - Manhattan, New York, USA

Daniel Burnham
Date Built
At the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue
Daniel Burnham was born in New York but raised in Chicago.  He went into practice with John Wellborn Root and together they were responsible for the design of what is probably the country's first skyscraper, the Masonic Temple Building.  Together Root and Burnham were part of a Chicago School of architects designing modern buildings in a Chicago style.  The Flatiron Building is considered to be more in that style than the other skyscrapers going up in New York during that time and in the decades that followed.  It has been described as a, "vertical Renaissance palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling."  Its steel framework was clad in limestone at the base and with glazed terracotta from Staten Island on the upper floors.

Its original name was The Fuller Building reflecting the company that commissioned it.  The name flatiron obviously derives from its shape.  The site is a triangle with the point defined by the Broadway - 5th Avenue corner and the back created by 23rd Street.  Other people have regarded it as more like the prow of a ship.  H. G. Wells in his 1906 book "The Future in America: A Search After Realities" said that, "I found myself agape, admiring a sky-scraper the prow of the Flat-iron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the afternoon light."  Not everyone was a fan.  In fact there was apparently quite a bit of concern that its height combined with its odd shape would make it susceptible to wind damage and thereby a hazard to people below.  However, as it celebrates its 109th birthday, that concern would seem to be unfounded.

From the beginning the building was an office block with retail outlets at street level.  The ground floor has been home to a Navy Recruitment office, a United Cigar Store, and a Drug Store.  In recent years it has been occupied by a shop selling mobile phones and  another selling sandwiches, as well as an access point for the city's subway.