The Flatiron District is a neighborhood in New York that surrounds the distinctive, triangularly shaped Flatiron Buildings. While this zone was once largely commercial in nature, it has in recent decades become more residential in outlook
The businesses that are still here tend to be specialty stores, local boutiques, and higher end chain stores. The mix reflexes the upper middle class nature of the district. There are also a number of luxury hotels and trendy restaurants.
The Flatiron Building is located at 5th Ave., Broadway, and 23rd St. The Flatiron District runs from 25th St. and NoMad on the north to 20th St. and Greenwich Village, Union Square and 20th St. on the south. Grammercy Park and Lexington Ave. are on the east. Chelsea and 7th Ave. are to the west.
The Ladies Mile Historic District is within the boundaries of the Flatiron District as is the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt which is a National Historic Site. There is not a lot of history behind the appellation. The name was basically thought up in the 1980’s by realtors looking for a designation of an enclave that was becoming an increasingly popular place to live. The zone had previously been referred to as the Toy District.
Old Name No Longer a Good Fit
After the Second World War, most toy manufacturing moved to countries outside the U.S. When such firms started to leave this portion of Manhattan, much space became available. This had the effect of driving down rents for commercial space. Many photographers set up studios here, and they were followed by attendant industries such as film processing and camera shops. This emphasis has waned in recent decades and so realtors began referring to the area as the Flatiron District.
The Flatiron District houses a significant portion of the New York City publishing industry. As with the photography industry, this presence has brought in associate firms such as literary agencies, editing services, and book binders and dealers.
New Business for Reinvented Locale
The Flatiron District has lately been attracting businesses that reflect the economy’s increasing reliance on information technology. There have been a large number of start ups in Web design and computer programming. There have been so many Internet related firms coming into the area that some have suggested calling the zone “Silicone Alley.” The collapse of the dot.com bubble at the start of this century lowered the desire to do this.
There is still some talk of calling the place “Multimedia Gulch.” This is due to the number of new businesses that work in this portion of the communications industry.
There is certainly much new life coming into the Flatiron District. Huge new skyscrapers such as One Madison Park clearly display the building boom underway. It is somewhat more difficult to build such towering structures here than in other portions of Manhattan where the underlying bedrock lies closer to the surface. In the Flatiron District an overlaying zone of broken rock called schist makes for a more unstable sort of grounding.