a tale of two flatirons


When one hears the term “Flatiron Building,” images of the iconic Fuller Building in New York City immediately come to mind. Once one of the tallest buildings in the world, this building at Broadway and 23rd Street has become a popular New York City architectural icon. This building, however, is not the only flatiron in North America, and it is not the oldest.

On a recent trip to Toronto, I stumbled across that city’s flatiron: the Gooderham Building. Built of red-brick, Toronto’s Gooderham Building is a historic landmark located on Wellington Street East. Close to the city’s Financial District, it is in the St. Lawrence neighborhood located between Front Street and Wellington Street, where they join up to form a triangular intersection. Like its New York counterpart it is referred to as the Flatiron Building. This flatiron, however, was completed in 1892, ten years before the more well-known New York building.

New York’s Flatiron Building [or Fuller Building] is located at 175 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, just opposite Madison Square Park. Upon completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city and one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street. The building sits on a triangular intersection formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and 23rd Street.

These two flatirons are not alone in North America, as the English-American Building in Atlanta, completed in 1897, is another example of this wedge design in architecture. As with these wedge-shaped buildings, the name “Flatiron” derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron, a common household item in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

It is a far, far better thing to see both of these buildings instead of just one.