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The Flatiron

The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose with It

Alice Sparberg Alexiou

Thomas Dunne Books

The marvelous story of the Flatiron: the instantly recognizable building that signaled the start of a new era in New York history.

Critics hated it. The public feared it would topple over. Passersby were knocked down by the winds. But even before it was completed, the Flatiron Building had become an unforgettable part of New York City.

The Flatiron Building was built by the Chicago-based Fuller Company--a group founded by George Fuller, "the father of the skyscraper"--to be their New York headquarters. The company's president, Harry Black, was never able to make the public call the Flatiron the Fuller Building, however. Black's was the country's largest real estate firm, constructing Macy's department store, and soon after the Plaza Hotel, the Savoy Hotel, and many other iconic buildings in New York as well as in other cities across the country. With an ostentatious lifestyle that drew constant media scrutiny, Black made a fortune only to meet a tragic, untimely end.

In The Flatiron, Alice Sparberg Alexiou chronicles not just the story of the building but the heady times in New York at the dawn of the twentieth century. It was a time when Madison Square Park shifted from a promenade for rich women to one for gay prostitutes; when photography became an art; motion pictures came into existence; the booming economy suffered increasing depressions; jazz came to the forefront of popular music--and all within steps of one of the city's best-known and best-loved buildings.


BOOK EXCERPTS

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CHAPTER ONEGEORGE ALLON FULLER
IN 1876, TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD George Allon Fuller arrived in New York with his pregnant wife, Ellen, and their three-year-old-daughter Grace. He was tall and lean, with a high forehead, and a long, jutting jaw. His heavy black eyebrows, veering down over piercing dark eyes, gave his face a permanent scowl, indicating the intense nature of his character.George Allon Fuller, undated.
After studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he had joined the firm of Robert Swain Peabody and John G. Stearns soon after the pair had started it, in
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Flatiron

"Alexiou -- a native New Yorker and the granddaughter of a man who for a time owned the Flatiron Building in partnership with Harry Helmsley -- has written an engaging and informative account of the building's construction and its lasting place in New York's lore."--The Washington Post
 
“Alice Sparberg Alexiou's The Flatiron joins such books as Jill Jonnes's Conquering Gotham (2007), about Pennsylvania Station, and Gail Fenske's The Skyscraper and the City (2008), about the Woolworth Building, in a budding genre that we might call biographies of buildings.”--The Wall Street Journal

"Though she ends on a note of permanence, as the landmarked and restored Flatiron is here to stay, Ms. Alexiou's book is ultimately about the never-ending change that rushes by in the city, and, in evoking that, she succeeds."--The New York Observer

"The first history book about The Flatiron, one of New York City's first skyscrapers, built in 1902, and still a favorite sightseeing stop for tourists."--Deseret News

"[Alice Sparberg-Alexiou] brings the building alive by profiling not only its owners and tenants but also the city's mixed reaction to it."--The Christian Science Monitor

“Alice Sparberg Alexiou elucidates the complex web of human relationships built around the Flatiron, bringing life to the poignant and tragic story of the skyscraper, its creators, denizens, and critics in New York 1900—a rich and contentious setting shaped not only by buildings, streets, and squares, and the popular arts of music, theater, and film, but also by unbridled speculation, gambling, corruption, conflict, and intrigue.”--Gail Fenske, author of The Skyscraper and the City

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Alice Sparberg Alexiou

  • ALICE SPARBERG ALEXIOU is the author of Jane Jacobs: Urban Visionary. She has been an editor of Lilith magazine and written for The New York Times and Newsday, among others. She is a graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and has a Ph.D. in classics from Fordham University. She lives in New York.
  • Alice Sparberg Alexiou
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Flatiron

The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose with It

Alice Sparberg Alexiou

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Thomas Dunne Books

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