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The Flatiron Building

New York's Wedge-Shaped Skyscraper

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Designed by architect Daniel Burnham, the Flatiron Building in New York City is one of the world's earliest skyscrapers.
The Flatiron Building in New York City

The Flatiron Building in New York City

Photo © Mario Tama/Getty Images
The Flatiron Building
Previously Named: The Fuller Building
Location: 175 Fifth Avenue at Madison Square Park, New York City, New York, USA
Architect: Daniel Burnham
Year: 1903
Height: 87 meters / 285 feet
Stories: 22

About the Flatiron Building:

Although officially named the Fuller Building, Daniel Burnham's innovative skyscraper quickly became known as the Flatiron Building because it was wedge-shaped like a clothing iron. Burnham gave the building this unusual shape to maximize use of the triangular lot. The Flatiron Building is only six feet wide at its tip. Offices at the narrow point offer spectacular views of the Empire State Building.

When it was constructed, some people worried that the Flatiron Building would collapse. They called it Burnham's Folly. But the Flatiron Building was actually a feat of engineering that used newly developed construction methods. A sturdy steel skeleton allowed the Flatiron Building to achieve record-breaking height without the need for wide supporting walls at the foundation.

The limestone facade of the Flatiron building is decorated with Greek faces, terra cotta flowers, and other Beaux-Arts flourishes. The original double hung windows had wooden sashes that were clad in copper. In 2006, a controversial restoration project altered this feature of the landmark building. The curved windows at the corners were restored, but the rest of the windows were replaced using insulated glass and aluminum frames painted with a copper-colored finish.

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