9. The Flatiron Building is Not Its Original Name

When built, the Flatiron Building was called The Fuller Building, named after architect George A. Fuller, who was called “the father of the skyscraper.” The lot of the Flatiron Building was sold to Harry. S. Black, CEO For the Fuller Company for $2 million in 1901, and the Flatiron Building served as the offices of The Fuller Company until 1929. Though originally from Chicago, Fuller opened an office in New York City in 1895, four years after New York City altered its building code to allow for skeleton construction and curtain walls. Here, Fuller built The New York Times Building in Times Square in 1898 and he still has a building named after him on 57th Street.

Chicago architects Daniel Burnham and Frederick P. Dinkelberg employed a construction technique for the Flatiron Building like the one developed by Fuller. The name would not stick around though, as locals immediately called it The Flatiron and the name stuck. Sonny tells us that this is the third building on the lot, and each building before was also nicknamed “The Flatiron.”

That prow was once known as the “cowcatcher,” and in fact, the entire building was sometimes referred to as the cowcatcher. Alice Sparberg Alexiou author of The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose with It writes that it may have been a reference to the shape of the lot, which “recalled the metal piece attached to the front of locomotives to prevent derailment from livestock unwittingly cross the tracks. Although some said that cowcatcher referred to the fact that cows from once nearby farms often wandered into it to avoid the increasing traffic on the street.”