What is this?
Right, it is the Flatiron building undergoing some renovations. The people who used protective net as an advertising board for H&M were apparently forced to remove it.
If you read my blog (as I suspect that you really don’t), you might know that Flatiron building is very special for me. So as soon as I herd that the workers are doing demolition work and throwing pieces of deteriorating facade into a dumpster I went to investigate. Well, actually not right away, but when I got the chance, but that does not matter. The dumpster was there, filled to the brim. Surprisingly enough my haul was exactly the same as of my fellow dumpster divers:
two pieces of facade (I think I know where they are from – the curvy thing is a part of a column and the square thing is a blocky decoration, similar to the one which helped the hero of “From Time to Time” to climb the building).
Two bricks, with markings M& LW and Bourne. These might be modern, but looks like they were a part of the Flatiron, and that’s all that matters.
Get to the top of the Empire State Building? Check.
The triangle in this picture is formed by my favorite skyscraper of all times — the Flatiron Building.
My fascination with the Flatiron started when I read O.Henry’s “Little Speck in Garnered Fruit” (in Russian translation, of course).
Here is the quote that interested me:
The druggist made an examination. “It isn’t broken,” was his diagnosis, “but you have a bruise there that looks like you’d fallen off the Flatiron twice.”
The translation went something like “your face looked like it was flattened by the Flatiron Building”, but that doesn’t matter.
I’ve never seen a picture of the Flatiron, but reading that story, I tried to imagine what it looked like. Upon seeing the building in Manhattan 5 years later, I instantly realized what it was.
But wait, there is more.
In the first couple of years of the Internet boom I learned about Flatiron Partners, a venture capitalist partnership. At the time I did not even know who venture capitalists were. These guys had a really crappy site though. I wrote them an email, offering to code a better looking website for free, because I liked the Flatiron Building so much. I even got a response, thanking me for my offer, and saying that they were working with some professionals on the new version.
Soon, when I was working at iXL, I actually did some very light coding on their site anyway. iXL was the company that got their account. Talk about destiny, huh? :)
I just purchased an awesome book called “Invisible New York : The Hidden Infrastructure of the City”. As any hacker I am fascinated with all hidden technological things : tunnels, shafts, silos, generators, abandoned buildings. This book is a photographic essay about what the author calls “Serving Places” of New York City — things like abandoned subway stations, abandoned missile silos (turns out there are some in the Bronx), water system tunnels and valve rooms. Unfortunately the author did not include a “lost”subway station underground near Brooklyn College or bowels of Flatiron Building with its one of a kind pneumatic elevator system. The cover of the book features an absolutely amazing shot of a spiral staircase.