When you think of Manhattan, the Flatiron District comes to mind. It is called after the Flatiron Building, which is located on 23rd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue in New York City’s borough of Manhattan. In general, the Flatiron District is bordered on the south by 14th Street, Union Square, and Greenwich Village; on the west by the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) and Chelsea; on the north by 23rd Street and Madison Square (or NoMad); and on the east by Park Avenue South and Gramercy Park.
New York City’s Broadway runs through the heart of the district, whereas Madison Avenue begins at 23rd Street and proceeds north. Madison Square Park, which is located at the northern (uptown) edge of the neighborhood and was entirely refurbished in 2001, is a must-see. As part of its limits, the Flatiron District includes the Ladies’ Mile Historic District as well as the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt, which is designated as a National Historic Site. The Flatiron District was also the home of Silicon Alley, a term that has become synonymous with New York’s high-tech industry and has subsequently moved outside the neighborhood.
The Flatiron District is a portion of Manhattan Community District 5, which includes the Upper East Side. Residents are represented by the Flatiron Alliance neighborhood group, while surrounding businesses are represented by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership business improvement district, albeit the limits of the two organizations are distinct (though partially overlapping).
This commercial district, which takes its name from the renowned wedge-shaped Flatiron Building, is also home to a number of high-rise apartment buildings and office buildings. Residents and visitors to Fifth Avenue patronize the hip bars, kiosks at the Italian food emporium Eataly, and eccentric food trucks that line the street. Madison Square Park serves as a focal point, and it is well-known for its seasonal art pieces as well as the long line at the first Shake Shack.
The designation “Flatiron District” dates back to around 1985, and was given to the area because of its increasing residential character, as well as the influx of numerous restaurants into the area – real estate agents needed a catchy name to use in their advertisements to describe the area as a desirable place to live. Prior to that, the neighborhood was predominantly commercial, with a large number of small apparel and toy manufacturers; it was known as the Toy District at one point.
The Toy Center buildings at 23rd Street and Broadway were constructed during this time period, and the annual American International Toy Fair was held there every year from 1903 to 1945, with the exception of 1945. When most of this activity relocated outside of the United States, the region became known as the Photo District, owing to the high number of photography studios and other businesses that had established themselves there as a result of the low rents that attracted the photographers.
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