What makes the famed Flatiron Building so iconic is undoubtedly its unique triangular shape, with a point that juts out between Broadway and Fifth Ave and walls of windows up and down the sides of its wedge structure. But as many New Yorkers know, it’s not the only one of its kind. If you’ve wandered the West Village you’ve perhaps eyed other buildings of this unusual stature, though much shorter. Or, if you’re walking down the diagonal avenue of Broadway, you may have seen ones of more substantial height where those street grid lines meet.
Though there isn’t a particular trend or history for this building shape, besides the plots of land that were left when the streets were designed—and that, of course, in a city like New York you are squeezing in as much as you can—each of these buildings has its own special story that is heavily influenced, if not defined, by that corner shape itself.
Here are brief histories of the unusual, eye-catching triangle buildings across New York:
1. The Flatiron Building at 175 Fifth Ave, Manhattan
Of course we had to start with the “OG” of sorts : the famous Flatiron Building. It was actually called “The Fuller Building” originally, since it served as the headquarters for the Fuller Construction Company from its completion in 1902 through 1929. Though it is commonly assumed that the nickname Flatiron Building is connected with the current structure, Sonny Atis, the long-time superintendent of the Flatiron Building told us on a special behind-the-scenes visit that this is the third building on the lot, and each building before was also nicknamed “The Flatiron” because of the resemblance of each building’s shape to a clothing iron, caused by the triangular plot of land at 23rd St and the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue.
Many people also thought its shape and tall design would not withstand the wind, but architect Daniel Burnham designed a wide foundation and utilized steel cage construction so it could withstand the test of time (and weather). You can se what the Flatiron Building looks like from the off-limits roof here.