New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

23 Skidoo

When you have a structure that is a huge NYC icon, a National Historic Landmark and internationally recognizable, you have both a responsibility and a serious challenge. After all, not only has the Flatiron Building been photographed by millions, but the roster also includes some of the country's most prestigious photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Berenice Abbott. The beautiful photos of Steichen and Stieglitz have done much to immortalize the Flatiron.
This is why I have waited over two years to do a photo and piece on the Flatiron - it needs to have justice done. The perfect opportunity presented itself last Thursday, the day I photographed Ashley Alexandra Dupre's residence on 25th Street after the Spitzer scandal. Being out before dawn in the neighborhood, gave me an opportunity to swing around the corner and capture the building at sunrise on a magnificent, clear day. I felt like a serious photographer that morning, having chosen the conditions and making a pilgrimage at the appropriate hour. With little traffic, I was able to position myself anywhere with ease - including the middle of the streets. See a second photo here.
The building owes its name to the triangular plot of land upon which it sits, which was called the Flatiron block. Contrary to urban mythology, this name predates the building's construction. It was officially the Fuller Building, but from the beginning it became popularly known as the Flatiron. One of the city's oldest existing skyscrapers (22 stories, 285 feet tall), it was built in 1902, designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham in the Beaux-Arts style. The exterior is a rusticated limestone with glazed terra-cotta.
On its own island block, it is circumscribed by 23rd Street, Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street, diagonally across Madison Square Park. The area neighboring it is known as the Flatiron District.

Trivia Note: One of the competing stories for the origin of the expression "23 skidoo" is due to the wind tunnel effect generated by the siting of the building. In the early 20th century, men would gather on 23rd Street trying to get glimpses of women with their dresses being blown up by gusts of wind. The police would give them the "23 skidoo" to remove them from the area ...

10 comments:

naomid said...

Most of the building contains Holt Publishing, also the worst bathrooms I've ever used in my life.

marley said...

Brilliant photo. Glad that you had the perfect oppurtunity to photograph the building. When I was in New York 2 years ago the Flatiron building was under going a clean up and was covered in scaffolding and material so I did'nt manage a decent shot.

oldmanlincoln said...

Very nice photograph. I have seen signs on that building in the past. I guess those days are over. Nice work.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville, Ohio

Brian said...

Naomid - A lot of buildings which are beautiful architecturally have drab, nondescript interiors.

marlye, oldmanlincoln - thanks.

Therese said...

Sunrise on 32 windows (if I counted well) + a bird: superb!

Seda said...

Nice picture and very nice colors in deed!
I will stop by again!
Seda
Istanbul Photo

Gail's Man said...

An impressive building, although I can't say that I've ever heard or seen it before. I've heard 23 skidoo mentioned on films, but never known where it came from.

Best wishes for a happy Easter

Steve from New Haven said...

Yo Brian you are da man! Super photos and always great commentary. I wonder about that "23 skidoo". I had to check back with "The Illuminatus Trilogy" to see what Robert Anton Wilson had to say. I read, conspiracy of 23, Dillinger, my trip became longer..Is there an answer? Fnord.

Rian said...

I've been wanting to shoot the flatiron too, but i find the scaffold (is that what it's called?) running the whole height of the building on it's west side disturbing.. I wonder when they'll remove that..

Annie said...

popped over here from your third anniversary summary. Great pikkie. Good on you! Thank you! One of those (many) places in NY I haven't managed to see, despite numerous visits. But have heard all about it!