The bustling neighborhood, as diverse as New York itself, includes some of the city’s most popular restaurants in a variety of price ranges and cuisines; a dynamic retail environment with a profusion of fashion, beauty, and home furnishings stores; superb educational institutions and such architectural highlights as the fabled Flatiron Building, the Metropolitan Life and New York Life buildings, and the exquisite New York State Appellate Courthouse. A burgeoning residential community is adding its own new vitality to this historic neighborhood. The district is easily accessed by a range of public transportation options and is just a short stroll from either Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station.

So look around explore, enjoy, and Discover Flatiron! 

 

Flatiron History

Discover Flatiron: Henry Maillard, Confectioner

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership takes a look back at the 19th century neighborhood chocolate retail store, restaurant, cooking school, and factory created by celebrated French confectioner Henry Maillard, who also became a leading manufacturer of chocolate in the United States.

When Henry Maillard migrated from France to New York City in 1848, he established a factory and catering business in Lower Manhattan shortly thereafter. He then began to receive raves as “confectioner par excellence in America,” according to King’s Handbook of New York edited by Moses King. Much of Maillard’s success in his new homeland was attributed to his elaborate catering at high-profile events. 

One such occasion was a White House renovation unveiling party hosted by President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, in 1862. “The gala boasted as its centerpiece a Maillard-made confectionery steamship flying the Stars and Stripes, along with sugar models of Fort Sumter and the Goddess of Liberty,” noted The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets edited by Darra Goldstein.

During this period, Maillard also initiated plans to open a store and restaurant. His factory had already relocated to 24th and 25th Streets just west of Sixth Avenue in Chelsea in the 1870s. Later, around the turn of the century, Maillard’s ground floor restaurant and store at 1097 Broadway (at 24th Street inside the Fifth Avenue Hotel) received recognition as a designated go-to destination. The site “quickly became a sparkling jewel in Manhattan’s crown,” noted William Grimes in his book Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York.

“Confectionary and pastry of the oddest and most ingenious shapes and varying in size from tiny candies to monumental decorative pieces several feet high in length, are the skillful products of this establishment,” reported King’s Handbook of New York. “Especially popular on Valentine’s Day for young suitors of means was the $500 box of chocolates containing one special morsel embedded with a diamond ring,” wrote author and Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership walking tour guide Miriam Berman in her book Madison Square: The Park and Its Celebrated Landmarks.

In circa 1900 photographs, Maillard’s retail store and restaurant featured “an Edwardian fantasy of mirrored walls, crystal chandeliers, mahogany display cases, and a cherub-painted ceiling,” noted The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. “Surrounding the staff are tables of beautiful baskets and boxes of chocolates, as well as candy novelties like a life-size bust of a woman that could be mistaken for a customer. Chairs and tables along one wall reinforced Maillard’s claim that this was ‘An Ideal Luncheon Restaurant for Ladies.’"

Women, however, weren’t Maillard’s only patrons. New York City Mayor Smith Ely Jr., who held office for just one year (1877-1878) and lived in the community for more than two decades, was a steady customer. Ely told The Medico-Legal Journal in a 1908 article about longevity in life that “it was my regular habit on my way home from clubs and entertainments, to stop at Maillard’s and have a meringue glacé, followed by a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream.”

Chocolate products for Maillard’s restaurant and other retailers were manufactured at the confectioner’s five-story factory at 114-118 West 25th Street. Reportedly the largest of its kind in New York City, the property extended an entire block and had a second entranceway at 113-117 West 24th Street. 

“Four hundred people are employed at all times, and in the busy season this number is increased,” wrote King’s Handbook of New York. “Six traveling salesmen are engaged in making the products of the factory known to people in other cities; and in this work they have valuable assistance at the hands of the women of New York and their provincial friends.” 

The 25th Street building also served as the headquarters for Maillard’s New-York Chocolate School. According to King’s Handbook of New York, “Here free lessons are given on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, from October to June, in the art of making a cup of chocolate or cocoa, so that these delicious and nutritive beverages may be served in their perfection.” 

Following Maillaird's death in 1900, and the 1908 demolition of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the retailer moved to 35th Street and Fifth Avenue. “There is but little question that Maillard is responsible for Americans being candy loving people,” reported Confectioners’ and Bakers’ Gazette in their obituary about the chocolatier. “Maillard’s chocolate, both to drink and to eat, gave us our first taste for a confection, which has since become one of the rivals of the staff of life.” 

Photo Credit: Boston Public Library

Flatiron Faces

Flatiron Faces: Maria Gelashvili, Owner & Head Designer, Flowers By Blooming Affairs

Meet Maria Gelashvili, Owner & Head Designer of Flowers By Blooming Affairs, a “new-fashioned flower shop” at 925 Broadway, between 21st and 22nd Streets. “We make sure we give our clients an exceptional floral experience,” says Gelashvili, who begins her day at 6 am. “We have to get fresh flowers every day!”

1. Flowers by Blooming Affairs has been in the Flatiron District for nearly two decades, and you and your family became owners two years ago. What has made the business so successful over the years? Have you made changes to the business? 

Flowers By Blooming Affairs is a family-operated business. My husband and I have made a lot of positive changes. Our neighbors and returning customers always comment on how different the store is compared to how it was years ago.  

2. What do you offer at Flowers by Blooming Affairs?

We provide flowers for all occasions, whether it be weekly arrangements for lobbies and offices or arrangements for corporate events. We also offer discounts for companies and incorporate European floral design methods.

3. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. What are your recommendations for the occasion?

Blooming Affairs can guarantee many different arrangements for Valentine’s Day. Whatever the customer wants, we are able to meet their vision. It’s one of our biggest days of the year, and we always make sure we are fully prepared for anything. Red roses are the most popular during this holiday. We come up with creative ways to incorporate them, so designs don’t become repetitive.

4. Do you have a favorite flower or flower arrangement?

My favorite flower is pink ranunculus, and our favorite arrangement goes by the name “Vogue.” I love soft pastel colors. Purple and pink are our store’s theme colors.

5. What led you to owning a small floral business?

We love adventures and we think business is an adventure. It’s fun and rewarding, but sometimes it is frustrating. However, we are so grateful and happy that we are in one of the best neighborhoods in New York City. Our customers are very nice and supportive in every way. Flowers By Blooming Affairs is improving daily, and we enjoy being here.

6. Is there any advice you can share with others interested in floral design?

I always say in order to become successful in anything you do in this life, you have to use three things: your hands, your mind, and your heart. That is the formula for success.

7. Switching gears, when it’s time to grab a bite to eat, where do you like to go in the area?

There are so many places to eat within the vicinity of our store. Maison Kayser right next door, Obicà Mozzarella Bar Pizza e Cucina, and Mari Vanna. Our kids enjoy Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.

8. What do you consider a “must-see” or “must-do” in the community?

Definitely the Flatiron Building is my favorite building to see, and Flowers By Blooming Affairs is the second.

9. What’s your favorite building or architectural element in the neighborhood?

Looking at the Flatiron Building every morning makes me happy. It holds so much history and beauty.

10. Finally, choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

Historical. Modern. Energetic.

Photo Credit: Flowers By Blooming Affairs

Walking Tour

Weekly Free Walking Tour

Join our professional guides on a 90-minute journey through this vibrant neighborhood, viewing some of the City’s most notable landmarks.

Click here for more information.

What People Are Saying see

“Village meets midtown.”

When asked to describe the Flatiron District in three words

Brandon Stanton
photographer, Humans of New York

“It's a three-way tie. The architecture. The vibe. The food.”

When asked about his favorite thing about the Flatiron District

Marc Glosserman
Founder & CEO Hill Country Hospitality + local resident

“You are building a community like no other!”

Excerpt from remarks at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership

Gale A. Brewer
Manhattan Borough President

Quick Stats

22M+

Square feet of commercial real estate

44M+

Total 2016 MTA riders for 23rd Street (1,6,N,W,F,M) and 28th St (1,6,N,R) stations

4,650

Hotel rooms

7,563

Taxi drop offs per weekday in 2017

3.3+

Dollars invested in the Public Plazas by the BID

160K

Citi Bike trips originated or ended within Flatiron in June 2018

580

Ground floor business in the Flatiron District