Flatiron District and Madison Square

An iconic representative of New York, The Flatiron building, once called the Fuller building, is one of the oldest of the original New York skyscrapers, and one of the most-often photographed buildings in New York. It lends its name to Manhattan's Flatiron District, which includes Madison Square Park. Bounded by 20th Street, Union Square and Greenwich Village to the south, Sixth Avenue and Chelsea to the west, 25th Street and NoMad to the north, Rose Hill to the northeast, and Lexington Avenue/Irving Place, Gramercy Park and the neighborhood of Gramercy to the east, the Flatiron District is home to other notable buildings including the Met Life Tower, built in 1909 and the New York Life Building.

Fifth Avenue Hotel, circa 1875

Fifth Avenue Hotel, circa 1875

The Fifth Avenue Hotel, seen in this photo from the 1870s, was a luxury accomodation built in the late 1850s. At the time of this photograph, Ulysses S. Grant had recently used the hotel as the launch point for his Presidential campaign. The location at 200 Fifth Avenue is diagonally across from the eventual site of the Flatiron Building. However, the two buildings did not coexist for long, since the Fifth Avenue Hotel was demolished in 1908 not long after the Flatiron was constructed. The site is now probably best known as the location of Eataly.

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Prow and the Shadow of the Flatiron Building, 1902

Prow and the Shadow of the Flatiron Building, 1902

This is a seldom seen view of one of New York City's most famous buildings, the Flatiron Building. In this black and white photograph taken in 1902, the Fuller Building (as it was then known) was still under construction. Here the photographer stands on an upper floor of the nearly complete building and aims his camera down. From above, you can see horsecarts, streetcars, and pedestrians, but precious few by contemporary standards.

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Broadway and East 23rd Street, 1884

Broadway and East 23rd Street, 1884

Looking south at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue at East 23rd today, you would see the prow of the famed Flatiron Building, but in 1884 you would see a much different "ship." The distinctive shape of the intersection makes the location easily identifiable. At this time, the site was owned by Amos Eno and was known as Eno's flatiron. As can be seen in the photograph, Eno sold advertising on the side of the Cumberland apartment building he owned. Apparently there was a big market for various medicinal plasters.

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A Squadron of U.S. Navy Biplanes Flies of Madison Square Park, 1930

A Squadron of U.S. Navy Biplanes Flies of Madison Square Park, 1930

On this beautiful day in 1930, two squadrons of U.S. Navy planes can be seeing flying over Union Square and Madison Square Parks. The Metropolitan Life Tower lives up to its name, towering over the remainder of the skyline, including the not-so-tall Flatiron building, which cuts like the prow of a ship through the confluence of Fifth Avenue and Broadway.  Drivers of today should look on in envy at the traffic -- or lack thereof -- passing through the famed intersection.

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Madison Square Garden, 1924

Madison Square Garden, 1924

The second Madison Square Garden, seen here decorated for the 1924 Democratic National Convention, was located at East 26th Street and Madison Avenue, where the New York Life Building stands today. This incarnation of the Garden replaced a more primitive open-air arena. Designed by the famed architect Stanford White in 1890, it was also the site of his 1906 murder by socialite Harry K. Thaw over White's affair with Thaw's wife, the actress Evelyn Nesbit. The building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style and boasted a roof garden restaurant.

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Statue of Diana atop Madison Square Garden, circa 1925

Statue of Diana atop Madison Square Garden, circa 1925

There was a time when Madison Square Garden was located at Madison Square, on East 26th Street and Madison Avenue, in what is today called the Flatiron District. In this black and white photograph, taken shortly before the demolition of this Madison Square Garden, we see the famed Statue of Diana by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. This is actually the second version of the statue. Both the sculptor and the architect of the building, Stanford White, thought the original was too heavy at 18 feet tall and 1800 pounds, so Gaudens made a shorter, hollow version.

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Flatiron Building After a Snowstorm, 1906

Flatiron Building After a Snowstorm, 1906

A cold winter morning in 1906. The Flatiron building rises up beyond the barren trees and the silhouttes of intrepid New Yorkers out walking. No streetcars can be seen. Only the legs of people and horses seem able to traverse the snow covered streets outside Madison Square Park.

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Madison Square Park, 1902

Madison Square Park, 1902

New Yorkers love their greenspaces. In this black and white photograph from 1902, we see a mother and her children strolling through Madison Square Park. Fellow New Yorkers occupy the benches, chatting, and reading newspapers. Beyond the cool shade of the trees, looms the newly-constructed Flatiron Building, an urban icon seen from a bucolic setting.

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Sightseeing Bus in front of Flatiron Building, 1910

Sightseeing Bus in front of Flatiron Building, 1910

New York City has always attracted tourists. Here a busload of them prepare to see the sights, and there's no better place to begin than the Flatiron Building, which had only opened a few years before, in 1902. The official name of the Flatiron is the Fuller Building,   which is inscribed on the metal gates below the arch.

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Flatiron Building Seen from 26th Street, 1907

Flatiron Building Seen from 26th Street, 1907

The Flatiron District doesn't look terribly different today, with the iconic Flatiron Building cutting like a ship's prow through the combined traffic of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It's the nature of the traffic that's changed. Here we see horses, carriages, and streetcars, rather than the cars, taxis, and buses of today. Oh, and maybe there are a few more tall buildings. But really, with the Flatiron in view, who notices them?

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