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A History of Flatiron

A History of Flatiron

From the iconic MetLife tower and its majestic clock faces soaring above the ineffably lively Madison Square Park, to the sumptuous array of gourmet foods available at Eataly, to the unmistakable aroma of the one-of-a-kind burgers and fries cooking at the original Shake Shack, there is no place in New York like the Flatiron District. It is easy to see why apartments near Flatiron in NYC are so desired.

Like the city that surrounds it, the Flatiron neighborhood is a combination of constant change and obstinate landmarks, with a fascinating history of its own. This is a brief look at the history of the Flatiron District.

The Original Madison Square

Many New York City tourists have found themselves confused by the geographical disparity of the Madison Square Garden arena – now at 31st Street between 7th and 8th Avenues – and Madison Square Park, which sits across from the Flatiron Building at 23rd and 5th. However, the current Garden is actually the fourth incarnation of the famous arena, with the first opening in 1879 across from Madison Square Park in what is now the Flatiron District.

The park itself has been a public space since 1686, almost as long as the city has existed. During the early 19th century the area was part of The Parade, which was a large space in the middle of Manhattan used for military purposes. Madison Square Park, named after the fourth US president James Madison, officially opened in 1847 and is still a hugely popular park today, even though the arena has long since moved.

One of the City’s Original Skyscrapers

Throughout the world, New York City is known for its immense skyscrapers. However, it is really just two sections of Manhattan that house the majority of the city’s skyscrapers. Midtown and the Financial District are two business districts that happen to have a high concentration of Manhattan schist bedrock close to the surface, allowing for the support of a number of super-tall buildings.

However, the history of New York City skyscraper really shape those districts as well as well as the Flatiron District with the Flatiron Building. When the 5th Avenue tower, then called the Fuller Building, was completed in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the world and very much a novelty. Steel frames being a new construction technique made most people wonder how a 21-floor, 307-foot building could stay standing. The most eye-catching aspect of the structure was and still is the unique triangular shape, being at the intersection of Broadway (running diagonally) and 5th Avenue (running straight). The building’s distinctive shape earned the “Flatiron” nickname amongst New Yorkers. The Flatiron Building soon became the official name and remains so today.

The Flatiron District

The name “Flatiron District” was not commonly used until the 1980s as real estate developers sought to brand the small area around the building and Madison Square Park. However, as residents and tourists began flocking to the area, interest from retailers and restaurateurs sprouted a demand for apartments near Flatiron. Now the neighborhood boasts much of the city’s best and most popular shopping and dining options.


Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village has a vast variety of options for those seeking apartments near the Flatiron District. Call (877) 774-1855 today for more information on our no fee rentals in New York.