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: The Launch of the Medical Reserve Corps

To honor the enduring resiliency displayed by New Yorkers during times of adversity, the Flatiron Partnership is taking a look back at the launch of the Medical Reserve Corps. This group of staff and volunteer health care professionals is trained to respond to public health emergencies which can include a variety of responsibilities such as assisting with medical surge capacity during an influenza outbreak or assisting with mass sheltering operations, such as during a coastal storm. “The values forming the foundation for the New York City Medical Reserve Corps (NYC MRC) are trust, honesty, commitment, and respect,” notes the organization’s handbook.

Shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks there was “an enormous desire on the part of many Americans to do something for their country,” reported The New York Times. “Unfortunately, there was no system in place to deploy them as part of an official response, and many were turned away,” according to the NYC MRC. “Later, some of those volunteers came together and proposed that New York City create a group of trained medical volunteers certified to assist in disaster and emergency response efforts.” The innovative idea caught the attention of the Federal government, who called upon not only New Yorkers but individuals across the nation to consider volunteerism as a means of healing. 

New York City periodontist Dr. Peter Rosenstein, who was then a member of a community-based forensic dental society on East 24th Street, offered his professional expertise to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner during the days after 9/11. “I felt it was important to volunteer my services to help the city recover as soon as possible,” recalls Dr. Rosenstein.

The collaborative efforts in NYC helped spark the formation of a national network of volunteers known as the Medical Reserve Corps in 2004 with local MRC units eventually organizing across the 50 states. The current NYC MRC division of the organization is managed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Howard A. Zucker, who has been New York State’s Commissioner of Health since 2015, was instrumental in the initial development period of the Corps during his tenure as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

 
(Photo of Dr. Zucker by Erik Thomas

Dr. Zucker’s résumé helped prepare him for the career challenge. The Bronx native was known as one of America’s youngest doctors when he graduated from George Washington University’s School of Medicine at the age of 22. “As the state's chief physician,” notes the New York State Department of Health, “Dr. Zucker leads initiatives to combat the opioids crisis, strengthen environmental health, and end the AIDS epidemic in New York. Since his arrival at the helm of the Department, he has established a network of hospitals equipped to treat Ebola, implemented programs to address the threat of Zika, spearheaded efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance and the recent measles outbreak,” and now the Coronavirus pandemic.

“As a pediatric cardiac critical care specialist, I have dealt with life and death emergencies on a daily basis,” Dr. Zucker told City & State in 2017. “This has shaped my view towards all issues large and small. Responding quickly and with the appropriate treatment is definitely something I’ve tried to incorporate from my clinical career into the creation of public policy.”

To date, NYC MRC has over 9,000 health care volunteers consisting of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, mental health professionals, respiratory therapists, and veterinarians. NYC MRC volunteers have served during a number of emergencies in New York City including H1N1, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy, Hepatitis A outbreaks, and the Ebola response.

In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the City has called upon volunteers and reached out to retired health care professionals and current medical students to register and offer their expertise. Thank you to all of the brave, selfless individuals who are supporting New York City's response efforts during this difficult time. For individuals seeking employment opportunities at the NYC MRC, call their office at 718-422-3001 or email covidstaffing@oem.nyc.gov for additional information. And, if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, visit the Help Now website to register. NYC MRC’s headquarters are located at the Gotham Center located at 42-09 28th Street in Long Island City.

“For anyone in the health care field, empathy and humility should be among the highest priorities,” Dr. Zucker revealed to City & State. “To truly deliver excellent care and develop a sound, sustainable policy, you need to understand those whom you are seeking to help…and adjust accordingly.”

Photo of Emergency Services deployed after Hurricane Sandy by Kristen Lepore, Region 2 MRC Coordinator

Flatiron Faces

Flatiron Faces: Allison Nye, VP of Operations at Birchbox

Meet Allison Nye, VP of Operations at Birchbox, an online retailer that offers a box of curated beauty samples on a monthly basis to more than 1 million subscribers. The e-commerce business is headquartered in the Flatiron District at 16 Madison Square West on Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets.

1. Birchbox’s motto states, “We are more than beauty & grooming.” Tell us more about your mission, and what sets you apart from other e-commerce businesses in wellness and beauty. 

Birchbox is 100% tailored for the casual beauty consumer, someone who is not obsessed with beauty or grooming, but who values the utility and enjoys the discovery. When a customer becomes a subscriber, they immediately fill out a beauty or grooming profile in order to receive personalized samples to try. Once they find a product they love, subscribers can purchase full-size versions on our website and feel great about the transaction instead of worrying that their investment will end up unused in their product graveyard.

2. Briefly describe your role as VP, Operations. What aspect of your job most excites you?

As VP of Operations, I oversee Operations, Customer Operations, Retail, and People & Culture. I collaborate with the leadership team to create company goals, set strategy and innovation for the future, and foster an environment where our people enjoy spending their time.

I definitely get excited by problem-solving and building efficiencies, but my ultimate passion lands with the people. I am impressed and motivated by our team’s level of creativity, their candidness, and their ability to execute or pivot based on business needs. As a leader of People & Culture, I support and maintain our open-door culture where all questions and ideas are welcome, and all expectations are clear so we can continue to foster our unique environment of exceptional employees.

3. Birchbox was co-founded by two women, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, and you are a member of a mostly female leadership team. How has this shaped the culture at Birchbox?

I believe that a strong culture is shaped by a leadership team who isn’t afraid to ask questions, be candid, and be challenged. I found these qualities in Birchbox when I first joined the team in 2014. Our female leaders instilled an artful balance of confidence and transparency that allowed me to feel safe to ask questions, advocate for change, and approach all levels of leadership for guidance throughout my career.

What I appreciate most about the culture at Birchbox is that this is just our norm. The culture originated by our co-founders has lived on through the years of Birchbox, which keeps me inspired to this day.

4. March marks Women’s History Month, and Birchbox is actively involved in the gender equality movement. For example, Birchbox’s Female Founder Collective and Women Take Tech initiative in partnership with the Flatiron School. Tell us more about these projects and how they came to be.

As a women-founded business, we’ve always felt it was really important to support our community beyond the box. Since the beginning, we’ve intentionally focused on featuring women-founded beauty brands and highlighting women in our community of customers across our website, email, social channels. A few years ago, we started feeling like it wasn’t enough to just talk about the amazing women who are part of the beauty community. We wanted to take it a step further, so we created a program called the Future Starts Now Fund to empower our customers. A handful of times each year, we pick one winner and give them $5,000 to put toward a dream of theirs. Nine winners later, we are in our third year of running the Fund and applications are live now for March’s Women’s History Month-themed award!

In addition to the Fund, we also make it a point to partner with women-founded businesses as frequently as possible. Katia Beauchamp, our co-founder and CEO, and fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff became friends while being judges on a TV show a few years ago. When Rebecca came to us with the idea to partner with her network, the Female Founder Collective, to bring attention to some of the women-run businesses that are members of the FFC, it was a no- brainer. A lot of the women-run companies we partner with are recommended to us through the network, but we also reach out to companies we come across and get a lot of cold emails too. It’s really important to us to give women access to our platform and community– we have to support each other and lift each other up, regardless of whether it’s going to drive sales for us or not.

5. Getting back to beauty, what are some of the most requested Birchbox products among customers, and what items do you personally consider to be must-haves?

This is my favorite part to talk about. In addition to our subscription service, we get great reviews on our Birchbox Discovery kits. These kits are curated by our merchandising team and are an affordable way to try out new products. These kits are some of my favorite things to purchase from Birchbox because I definitely self-identify as a casual beauty customer. I am busy and do not have time to find what products work the best for me, so I spent the majority of my life with the same, limited, beauty routine.

My all-time favorite, cannot live without product is Arrow Boost Color Enhancing Lip Balm. If you haven’t tried it, the time is now! It is the perfect blend of a hydrating lip balm while adding just a hint of color that I feel comfortable wearing all day long. Prior to my subscription, I never knew I needed this product and now I have one in my purse, my desk drawer, and in my makeup bag.

My go-to hair product is Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle. As a curly girl who likes to style and put heat on my hair, I am constantly looking for products to hydrate and protect. This product smells delicious and it has so many benefits in one bottle. It hydrates, works as a heat protector and adult detangler to protect my curls from breakage and damage between haircuts.

6. In 2018, Birchbox unveiled a partnership with Walgreens, which rolled out dedicated Birchbox spaces in select locations. What were the reasons behind launching an in-store shopping experience, and how have customers responded?

We decided to partner with Walgreens because it was an incredible opportunity to learn from a very established retailer. Walgreens brings so much retail expertise and we are excited for the opportunity to innovate, test, and learn about what customers want when shopping for beauty/grooming in an offline environment.

I believe there is something special about experiencing a digital brand in a physical way, but one thing we were mindful of was creating stores that were equally useful as they were enjoyable. We are still in pilot mode, but we are excited that the customer response has been overwhelmingly positive both in utility and experiential qualities of our brand.

7. What’s the best advice that you can offer to those who are interested in pursuing a career in retail and customer operations?

It starts with the customer–be obsessed with learning from them and make sure to stay connected.

In my experience, the operational parts of the job seem bigger in the beginning, but rarely change over time in your career. I leaned on my managers to coach me through the operational responsibilities, but I had to develop my own customer insights through my own experiences so I could bring my personal perspective when it came to strategic innovation.

As I started to develop and grow in my role, I had to protect that touchpoint to the customer so I didn’t lose my capability to create the right experiences for them. I feel inspired when I am around our customers. They are more engaged and dedicated to the success of our brand, and I want to build something that they will love and continue to love.

8. Birchbox opened its corporate headquarters in the Flatiron District in 2013. What makes Flatiron such a great fit for the BB team, and what do you enjoy most about working in this neighborhood?

The energy! The people who work at Birchbox are fast-paced, active, and motivated by new things, and there is always something to see and do in the area from pop-up activations in front of the Flatiron Building to educational installations in Madison Square Park.

9.  When it’s time to grab a bite to eat in the area, where do you like to dine in the neighborhood? What’s your go-to dish?

maman for caffeine. Trattoria Italienne for happy hour. Tacombi for esquites and egg tacos. Eataly for everything and anything.

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

Energetic. Convenient. Dynamic.

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

39M+

Total 2018 MTA riders for 23rd Street (1,6,N,W,F,M) and 28th St (1,6,N,R) stations

6,500

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