Manhattan’s triangular Flatiron Building, located where Fifth Avenue and Broadway converge, is all about angles and optical illusions. But I’ve come across another “side” to this iconic 22-story skyscraper.
The Flatiron famously appears exceedingly narrow when viewed from Fifth Avenue looking south. When you step several yards east or west of its northern point, the Beaux-Arts building looks like a flat, ornate wall set against the sky. This is why the Fuller Building is best known as the “Flatiron.”
When I visited the building recently with my camera, I took a few obligatory snapshots from these angles. The Flatiron’s unusual architecture entices photographers to do so. Why bother taking photos of from the building’s rear, where its distinctive lines dissolve?
Well, I like to orbit the still subjects that I photograph, and while at the rear of the Flatiron, I bumped into a view I’ve never seen in photos of the building. As I pointed my camera north, another iconic skyscraper appeared before me, mostly unobstructed. The Empire State Building stared down at me from 10 blocks away up Fifth Avenue. Even though the Flatiron’s distinguishable wedge-shape is lost from this spot, New York’s tallest building lends its fame to the view.
Then, as I observed the Flatiron’s westside profile, I was met by yet another iconic skyscraper, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower, standing 50-stories tall one block east. Yet even though this tower’s presence is incomparably more obvious, I’ve also never seen photographed beside the Flatiron.
That’s because the Flatiron is architecturally so seductive. The building, dressed in details of flowers and Grecian faces, entices onlookers to focus exclusively on her famous angles and illusions, that the building fails to let on that she offers these other intriguing views.