City Living: Flatiron
In Flatiron, foodies flock to the areas array of restaurants, tourists gawk at the iconic Old New York architectural styles of the buildings and locals visit the small cabaret and improv comedy venues or gather at Madison Square Park during the warm months.
Now new residents, many of them families, are settling in a neighborhood that 20 years ago was filled with vacant ground space and was mainly where people went to work during the day.
There was a time when at [5 p.m.] everything was closed, even [my business], and that was 10 or 12 years ago, said Josh Konecky, owner of Eisenbergs Sandwich Shop at 174 Fifth Ave. He worked in Flatiron for 20 years before becoming the fourth owner of the 85-year-old shop. It was more industrial, there was very little in the way of offices and nothing residential.
Jennifer Brown, executive director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Business Improvement District said that for many years Flatiron was mostly defined by commercial activity, but there has been residential growth since 2006. There are young professionals here but were seeing more and more families moving in, she said.
The area is chic and pricey, especially with developments like One Madison, at 20-22 and 23 E. 23rd St., a towering 60-story luxury high-rise, The Caroline at 60 W. 23rd St. and smaller, captivating reconstructed residences like The Jade at 16 W. 19th St. and The Story House at 36 E. 22nd St.
The district is named after the looming triangular Flatiron Building, originally named the Fuller Building, which sits at the intersection of 23rd Street, Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Built in 1902, the 22-floor landmarked Beaux-Arts-style building is a New York City icon and currently houses publishing companies like Macmillan and St. Martins Press and retail on the ground floor.
The Flatiron District is saturated with 19th-century cast iron and Beaux-Arts buildings, many now housing giant retailers and condominiums while serving as constant reminders of what Old New York looked like.
Many of the buildings are part of the Ladies Mile Historic District, designated in 1989 by the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission.
Big retail stores line the main Fifth Avenue, Avenue of the Americas and 23rd Street corridors while many independent businesses, including restaurants like Eataly, The City Bakery and Blue Smoke and boutiques like Chaos, and Thrifty Hog claim the side streets, giving them a distinctive charm.
There are mini restaurant rows down West 21st, West 24th and West 26th streets where you can a find a wide variety of cuisines, Brown said. From high-end to small, casual places theres something for everyone.
Tech companies are flourishing in the nabe, earning it the nickname Silicon Alley.
Flatiron is also home to CUNY Baruch, which lends a hand to the culture of the neighborhood with the Baruch Performing Arts Center.
When people think about Flatiron they mostly think restaurants and architecture but there are plenty cultural aspects to the neighborhood, Brown said, noting places like the Swann Auction Galleries and the Museum of Mathematics and even the 6 1/2-acre Madison Square Park, which has emerged as a central hub where families gather in the warm months for concerts, book readings and other activities.
She is excited to see how the neighborhood will continue to change.
It is a true mixed-used 21st century community where people live, work and visit, she said. If you havent been back for a while, you dont know what youre missing.
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