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The Dramatic Flatiron Building Was Controversial From the Day It Was Built

Today, the Flatiron Building is one of the most photographed buildings in New York City. The building’s dramatic presence delights both New Yorkers and tourists, but the building caused fear and anger when it opened for its design, mostly for the wild claims of 1,000 mile per hours gusts of wind. In reality, the gusts were between 35-70 mph.

There were a lot of tourists taking pictures of the Flatiron Building while we were there!

In the early 1900s, police officers chased men away from the Flatiron Building if they stood there for two minutes. These men were waiting for a strong wind gust to lift a woman’s dress into the air.

The New York Times claimed that pedestrians were over-estimating these winds at 1,000 miles per hour! There were stories of frightened horses and windows being shattered.

People were sure one of these gusts of wind would one day knock over this flat slab. Engineers had to prove to city officials that the building was sturdy.

Then, one day in 1903, John McTaggart, a 14-year-old bicycle messenger, was blown into traffic and killed by an automobile!

The stories of wind gusts were greatly exaggerated. As more and more tall buildings were built around it, the winds subsided, although you’ll still experience gusts of wind.

History & Facts

The Flatiron Building was built in 1902. At the time, it had 20 floors (another floor was added several years later. The Flatiron Building was never the world’s tallest, but because of its dramatic shape and that it was the tallest building in the area at the time, it became a myth that it was the tallest.


Hungry? Gourmet supermarket Eataly is right here to the right (of this photo). Buy something and eat it at Madison Square Park, or bring it to your hotel room later. Read my review of NYC gourmet supermarkets here.

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17 thoughts on “The Dramatic Flatiron Building Was Controversial From the Day It Was Built Leave a comment

    • It’s a great story. I heard one version that a judge actually made the decision about two minutes, but I couldn’t find anywhere that would verify it. The human stories always make places so much more interesting.

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