The Flatiron Building, which gives the Flatiron District its name, was once one of New York City’s tallest buildings; now it’s not even close. The “Ladies Mile” shopping area along Broadway was Manhattan’s premier retail destination during the 19th century; today, it has no such claim. But what has always been true of the neighborhood that stretches south for seven blocks from 25th Street between Park Avenue South and Sixth Avenue -- namely, that it is home to some of the most striking Beaux-Arts architecture and distinctive cast-iron buildings in Manhattan -- remains true today, and does much to explain why the Flatiron District remains one of Manhattan’s most desirable residential neighborhoods.
The cast-iron buildings that define the Flatiron District’s skyline tend to be of pre-war vintage and a modest height -- at least for Manhattan, where 20 stories is considered a moderate size. Given that many of the Flatiron District’s buildings, starting with the famed limestone-and-terra-cotta masterpiece of the Flatiron Building, are landmarked, there has not been much in the way of new condominium development in the Flatiron District, although some pre-war buildings have undergone conversions to loft-style condos or co-ops. The new condominium developments that have risen in the Flatiron District in recent years have been impressive and very in-demand, with the new luxury condo One Madison Park a particular standout. Other standout new developments in the Flatiron District are of the culinary kind -- big-ticket chefs Bobby Flay, Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio all operate blockbuster restaurants in the Flatiron District, and numerous smaller and less-prepossessing spots have made the Flatiron a below-the-radar foodie mecca. Anchored in history -- and named after a building that’s a major part of New York City’s architectural heritage -- but still clearly going places, the Flatiron District remains just what it has been for over a century: one of the nicest places to live in lower Manhattan.