17 Facts New Yorkers Don’t Know About the Flatiron Building

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The Flatiron Building has been around since 1902, and has a very unique look amongst New York’s famous buildings. Before the Empire State Building took over, it was the Flatiron that was most synonymous with NYC.

It was one of the first towers in Gotham constructed on a steel skeleton, and was known as one of our first skyscrapers.

Want to know what else you might not know about the Flatiron Building? Here are 17 facts that might surprise you about one of NYC's most famous structural icons.

1. It came from Chicago

[via chicagoreader]

Okay, not literally, but it was designed by Architect Daniel Burnham for The Fuller Company, both of whom were from Chicago. It was originally known as The Fuller Building.

2. It wasn’t named for its appearance

[via interestingamerica]

The wedge shape formed by Broadway, Fifth, and 23rd and 22nd Streets were already known as The Flat Iron before the building came along. Some folks tried to call it The Cowcatcher Building, due to its resemblance to the device on the front of locomotives, but that never caught on.

3. People thought it would collapse

[via forum.paradoxplaza.com]
[via forum.paradoxplaza.com]

Many New Yorkers thought the odd looking building wouldn't hold up, calling it Burnham's Folly. They figured the winds would knock it over. They even made bets. We suppose there's a small comfort in knowing there were a lot of idiots alive even then, just like today.

4. It’s only 6 feet wide at one end

[via ERI87@deviantart]

You probably know a few people taller than the skinny end of the Flatiron is wide. Wild, huh?

5. Men are even, women are odd?

[via tealandlime]

Men's bathrooms were designed to be on the even floors, and women's bathrooms were on the odd floors.

6. It used to attract perverts

[via gopixpic]

The Ladies Mile of shops used to end a block away at Madison, leaving plenty of opportunities for a glimpse of female undergarments in the winds generated around the Flatiron. There was even a movie made about this phenomenon, The Flatiron Building on a Windy Day.

7. It originated some American slang

[via brierpatch]

Ever hear the old expression “23 Skidoo?” It means "get lost," and it came from the NYPD Officers who regularly patrolled in front of the Flatiron, chasing away the men hoping watch women’s skirts fly up in the wind. “Scram,” “Skedaddle,” and “Skedat,” are all modern expressions thought to have originated from these incidents.

8. It helped revitalize 23rd Street

[via nytimes]

The 23rd Street area is bustling now, but it wasn't long ago that it was a relatively dead space. Business began to bloom around the Flatiron again in the 90s, drawn by the popularity of the iconic tower.