10. The Flatiron Building Was Built Incredibly Fast
Once the foundation was set during construction, the floors went up at a rate of one floor per week. And once the steel frame was done, it only took four months to finish the building, which was completed in June 1902, with the building opening in November that year.
New Yorkers were relatively unfamiliar with steel cage construction when the Flatiron was built. The thinness of the building also added to the public’s trepidation, and there was a fear that the building could topple over. In response, the building was over-engineered, says Sonny. As proof, Sonny recounts RCN’s experience trying to bring cable into the building. They started with a 14-foot bit, drilling from the outside of the foundation, followed by a 16-foot bit, but it never broke through. Finally, a 20-foot bit made it through and the RCN engineer said it was the widest foundation he had ever seen on a building.
Although architectural critics were clearly horrified by the design, the public almost instantly fell in love – along with the modern artists and photographers of the time. Architectural Record thought it was awkward, and criticized a large number of windows. The New York Times called it a “monstrosity,” The New York Tribune described it as a “stingy piece of pie,” the Municipal Journal & Public Works called it “New York’s latest freak in the shape of sky scrapers” and the Municipal Art Society went as far to say it was “unfit to be in the Center of the City.”