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A New Chapter for the Flatiron Building

When the Flatiron Building was completed in 1902, small businesses filled the 21 office floors in the building. In 1959, St. Martin's Publishing Company began purchasing other office spaces in the building when tenants moved out. By 2014, Macmillan Publishers, St. Martin's parent company, occupied all 21 office floors of the Flatiron Building, according to The New York Times. Since 2014, Macmillan has been the sole occupant of the Flatiron Building, and the publishing company's employees have considered the iconic New York City landmark a home. 

The Commercial Observer reported that after five years of sole occupancy in the Flatiron Building, Macmillan announced its decision to move down to the Financial District into a 261,000 square foot Larry Silverstein property at 120 Broadway. As the ever-evolving Flatiron District bids farewell to the company that has resided in the center of it all for decades, Macmillan CEO John Sargent reflects on the intertwined history of Macmillan and the Flatiron Building. 


Photo Credit: John Madere of Macmillan CEO, John Sargent 

In an interview with Publisher's Weekly, John Sargent recalls the afternoon Tom McCormack, CEO of St. Martin's Press, invited him to the Flatiron Building for lunch with excitement thinking to himself, "Now I can get inside the Flatiron Building.”

Sargent described the plaque on the west-side entrance of the Flatiron building, placed by the National Park Service in 1989 which reads, "Flatiron Building has been dedicated a National Historic Landmark. This building possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America." Sargent added that the second plaque below was placed there by the New York Community Trust declaring the building "one of the early buildings to employ a steel frame,” preceding the modern New York City skyscrapers. He added, "Some claim that the Flatiron was the tallest building in New York when it was built in 1902."

Today, the Flatiron District is an international tourist attraction. Rain or shine, large groups of individuals position themselves on the North Plaza to capture the perfect photo with the historic landmark. The Flatiron Building is no longer a contender for the largest building in New York City, but it serves as a reminder of the rich history of the city and its evolution over the decades. As tourists come and go and the type of businesspersons reflect the current Flatiron experience, the Flatiron Building has remained constant amidst the transformative New York City atmosphere for decades. 

John Sargent reminds fans of the Flatiron Building that its history is closely intertwined with Macmillan's history. Sargent recalled in his interview with Publisher's Weekly, "In the early years, we were tied closely to Macmillan in London. Harold Macmillan, who had returned from a stint as prime minister of the U.K. to once again head his family business, occasionally came to visit his American outpost. Employees at St. Martin's Press (two have been here for more than 50 years) recall forming a line from the elevator so that he could shake hands with the entire staff on his way in. There is history here."

Both the Flatiron Building's and Macmillan's historical pasts reflect the evolving book publishing industry. The New York Times reported, "For many in book publishing, the departure marks the end of an era when authors having meetings at the Flatiron was a rite of passage." Louise Penny, a best-selling crime writer reported to The New York Times, "My publishing life was born and raised in the Flatiron,” adding she even has a Flatiron charm on her keychain. The literary agent Christopher Schelling reported to The New York Times“Symbolically it means something.”

According to The Commercial Observer, Macmillan employees took to Twitter to express their feelings about moving out of the Flatiron Building. “Watching lots of longtime friends say goodbye to the Flatiron Building is pretty heartbreaking,” wrote Juliet Grames, an associate publisher at Soho Press.

It's the end of an era for the Flatiron Building. As technology booms in the Flatiron District and the quintessential publishing house of Macmillan vacate the building, the people of Macmillan Publishers will be remembered as the occupants who made the building a home. 

GFP Real Estate's Executive Director and Asset Manager of the Flatiron Building, Jane Gural-Senders, commented, "People want it, but who’s going to be the best? You want something that’s going to bring greatness.”

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