Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Flatiron Building, The One In New York
As I add more and more old postcards to the collection, I keep having to make a decision; Was the original image a photograph or a drawing? Looking at the detail in the building's facade and the chaos of the street , I'm fairly certain it's a photo, and a fit for The New Found Photography. I'm also fairly certain that the original photograph was probably taken during the day, and the night sky, moon, and lights were all added by the colorist who prepped the image for conversion to a postcard.
I'm not going to write much about the Flatiron Building. It's one of the most icon structures in the world and it doesn't take much effort to find out plenty of information. I will note that it was built in 1902, and was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham with additional work done by Frank P. Dinkelberg.
When it was first built it was not a loved structure by the people of New York. Because of it's thin design, it was assumed that it would blow down in the first strong wind and New Yorkers made fun of it, referring to it as Burnham's folly. Architectural critics were not kind. One thought it a grand place to watch a procession but a terrible place to do business. Now it's thought of as one of the most symbolic buildings of New York and has been added to the list of National Historic Landmarks. .
The Flatiron has long been an inspiration to artists. As early as 1903, photographer Alfred Stieglitz was making photographs of the building. In 1904, Edward Steichen made an early color photo that I'm probably going to put up on another of my blogs, www.fairuse-wjy.blogspot.com. Painters John Sloan, Childe Hassam and others have also made significant works from the Flatiron. I've been looking at some of them, and what really caught my eye was that the building's profile is so thin, the images all look like a facade and nothing else, no real building, just a wall floating in air.
This card was never sent and there was no message written on the back. The caption, "FLAT IRON BUILDING, BROADWAY AND FIFTH AVENUE, BY NIGHT, NEW YORK CITY. Fuller Building, generally known as the Flat Iron building stands at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue facing 23rd Street. Was the first steel frame skyscraper built in the world. It is 300 feet high and contains 120,000 square feet of floor space above ground and 13,340 square feet under the sidewalk."