Tuesday, July 12, 2011

adieu to the Flat Iron

Well, I simply can’t say goodbye to New York without reminiscing about another of my most favourite buildings …  

The Flat Iron.

Iconic, highly unusual and quite unforgettable, I’ve recently discovered that it was designed by a Chicago architect — Daniel Hudson Burnham.

We have a connection, Chicago and I.

With its very nice address Fifth Ave between 22nd and 23rd streets — the building is also a National Historic Landmark. The triangular piece of land it was built on dictated the building’s shape: like an old-fashioned clothing iron that was once heated on the top of a wood stove. Where the Flat Iron’s walls meet at its sharp point, the space inside is only 2 metres in breadth. But this is where most of the building’s work people want to be, since the apex directly faces onto the Empire State.

The back (or broader beam) of the Flat Iron

Designed in a Beaux Arts architectural style you don’t realise, until you get right up close to the Flat Iron’s exterior, that it has beautiful decorative details carved and sculpted into its limestone blocks: Gothic and Renaissance-type faces, flowers and leaves. Built (in 1902) just as the development of modern skyscrapers was getting underway, the Flat Iron was one of the first structures to use a steel skeleton.

I will be sad not to stand across the street at Madison Square Park and ogle upwards at its distinctive imprint on the sky.