A. The "Flatiron District" is named after the iconic Flatiron Building (175 Fifth Avenue) and refers to the blocks east and west of Fifth Avenue between Union Square and Madison Square.
Let’s start with that iconic 1902 Flatiron building presiding over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway on 23rd Street. Its unique three-façade structure and oversize windows give tenants natural light and views of the throngs below. The building has its downside, however, as men’s and women’s restrooms are on alternating floors, reportedly because at the time of construction only men's rooms were constructed.
Outside, the 307-feet building offers a unique focal point that makes it noticeable even if you hardly look up, as most New Yorkers tend to pound the pavement without craning their necks. It’s not that tall at 22 stories, anyway.
The area is now widely regarded for design, photography, clothing and stationery stores and since 2003, technology firms. Many of the early startups set up shop here, because of the availability of open-plan, loft spaces and the 24 hour community. Besides, who can beat the views of Madison Square Park? Other tenants here include venture capital firms like Union Square Ventures, tech school General Assembly and various co-working spaces. That sidewalk clock that nobody notices has been there since 1909.
One other thing we probably don’t remember about the district is how it was a notorious hangout area for men but who were justifiably dispersed for doing so. The building’s unique shape made for a wind tunnel that tended to raise women’s skirts, inspiring the phrase, “23 skidoo”, as code for the arrival of the police.
A big deal back then, but these days, it appears that it is Shake Shack at Madison Park that’s drawing in the crowds. The antibiotic-free burger joint started here (temporarily closed for renovation for five months) and has always has a long line. Just last December, it filed its initial public offering at the stock exchange. The area is a magnet for success, it seems.