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A guide to The FlatIron District New York


The story behind the curious and funny name of the neighbourhood dates back to 1902 when a thin, triangular 22-storey skyscraper initially named the Fuller Building was erected in the area. Back then locals laughed at its unusual design. Some compared it to a piece of cake but eventually the “flat iron” caught on. The Flatiron building is of course one of the major landmarks in the area. Its facade elaborately decorated with beautiful reliefs reminiscent of an European palace make it stand out among the today’s plain modern structures. The tower is occupied by offices as it has been since its construction. On the ground floor you can explore numerous attractive shops or you can have a look at the photographs chronicling the building’s history on display in the lobby.


The lively and colourful Flatiron neighbourhood boasts numerous shopping, dining and entertainment venues. The variety of stores and goods on offer could easily rival Wonderland. There are numerous specialised stores such as a bookshop dedicated solely to travel guides, a store selling baking tools, a vintage music shop and lots of other intriguing places that can bust your budget or sate your appetite if you are on a window-shopping diet.


Dining options cater to all budgets and tastes – from gourmet restaurants run by award winning chefs to salad bars. The most exciting foodie place in the neighbourhood is Eataly, an Italian food market that houses restaurants, a rooftop beer garden and stores specialised in selling a wide variety of products and condiments – wine, cheese, veggies, pastries, etc. New York’s rooftop bars are the city’s best kept secrets. Whether it be star gazing, admiring the breathtaking views or downing cocktails amidst the leafy garden, the rooftop bar at the 230th Fifth is one of the best in the area. Only here you get a head-on view of the Empire State Building!


The neighbourhood hides lots of lesser known exciting and curious places such as the Gramercy Theatre where you can catch concerts and stand-up comedy shows. At Tibet House you can see Buddhist-themed art or meditate with other visitors. Those looking for cheap entertainment can watch renowned cabaret performers at the Metropolitan Room for a few dollars only. The adventurous might pay a visit to the Institute of Culinary Education where you can choose from well over 1000 cooking courses taught by accomplished and often famous chefs. Courses range from short taste sessions that last a couple of hours to weekly regulars and can teach you anything from the very basics to preparing elaborate ethnic dishes.


Maxing your bank account while in New York is not a challenge. Once that happens, you might head to the local museums for a breath of affordable entertainment. The house where president Theodore Roosevelt was born and raised on 28th Street has restored period interiors and furnishings. The place is ideal for anyone interested in history or the lazy types not too keen on doing long and tedious museum crawls. Those who do, however, might find the extensive literary and art collection at the Robert R Livingston Masonic Library and Museum much more amusing and quite a challenge to explore. Same holds true for the American Jewish Museum, a great place to get acquainted with contemporary Jewish artists, traditional culture and crafts. Last but not least, the Sex Museum will appeal to anyone with an open mind and a sense of humour.


Finally take a breath of fresh air and relax in the leafy oasis of Madison Square Park. The park has a grassy lawn with trees to sit under and sunbather or enjoy picnics, a playground for little visitors, a snack bar and numerous art events to amuse you while you are here.