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 Art Students League of New York

In NYC, October is also known as Archtober, or Architecture and Design Month, the annual 31-day celebration of the stellar architectural sights found within the five boroughs, including Manhattan’s Flatiron District! In addition, October 3, 1887, marks of the debut of the Art Students League of New York in Flatiron at 143-147 East 23rd Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues. In celebration of the League’s arrival in the neighborhood more than 130 years ago, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership takes a look back at the early days of one of the nation's premier schools for aspiring artists and designers and its five-year occupancy in the area. 

When the Art Students League classes were launched on September 15, 1875, the organization was comprised mostly of women, who had been students at the National Academy of Design in New York City. As new League members, their mission would be, according to the Art Students League of New York’s website, “emphasizing the importance of artistic creativity, maintaining the greatest respect for artists who devote their lives to art, and educating students in the process of making art in an environment where anyone who wishes to pursue an art education can realize his or her full potential.” The League would also reportedly become the first major institute to allow women to do live drawings.

The League’s first school occupied the top floor of a building located at 108 Fifth Avenue near the corner of 16th Street. In 1878, the League voted to become an incorporated organization and also sought a charter from the State of New York. “This revolutionary approach to running an art education institution, which remains in place today,” notes the League’s website, “assured students a central part in the future of the League and granted them power in making decisions that would affect their own development as artists.”


(via Art Students League of New York) 

In 1882, the League, now growing in popularity with an enrollment of nearly 500 students, relocated to lease much larger headquarters on the top three floors of 38 West 14th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The League would shortly thereafter seek an even more sizable accommodation for their expanding operations within the Flatiron District. On October 3, 1887, the League commenced classes at 143-147 East 23rd Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues. This site had been the former wareroom of Sohmer & Co., the noted piano manufacturer that reportedly claimed Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Irving Berlin of “White Christmas” fame as one of its customers. 

The East 23rd Street relocation had been spearheaded by League president Charles R. Lamb, who would soon become the architect behind the 1899 design of the military triumphal Dewey Arch at 24th Street and Fifth Avenue. “The classes are large and full of enthusiasm,” wrote Appletons’ Dictionary of New York and Vicinity about the League in 1889.  Class costs varied in each category, which included $70 for the season or $12 a month for a half-day portrait class, or $120 for the entire season or $22 a month for a full-day session.


(via Art Students League of New York)

Within a year, the League proved to be a success in the neighborhood. “The 19 classes had been in daily session since October 3, embracing four life, three painting, five antique, two modeling, two costumes, sketch, composition, and artistic anatomy classes,” reported The New York Times on April 18, 1888. “During the season 652 students from all parts of the country and from Canada have been at work. Receipts for the year were $17,000 and expenditures $22,000, including $6,500 spent on improvements to the building.”

Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose 13-foot, nude weathervane copper statue named Diana appeared atop Madison Square Garden on East 26th Street from 1893 to 1925, was one the League’s leading instructors at the East 23rd Street location. And even some individuals from the world of literature considered the League an ideal workspace. Novelist Stephen Crane reportedly wrote The Red Badge of Courage at the East 23rd Street property. In the 20th century, the League’s Midtown Manhattan site would become the go-to destination for a number of prominent artists who were either students or taught at the institute, including Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, and Helen Frankenthaler. 

In 1892, with a reported 900 students, the League sought an even larger property with considerably more desirous conditions. “Rodents scampered around in search of crumbs from the dried bread that students used as erasers,” reported The New York Times on September 9, 2005, about the East 23rd Street facility. “Pungent aromas from neighborhood stables and sewer gas filled the rooms. Enough was enough, even for artists, hardy souls that they are. In 1889 the League–or rather its governing board, a third of which must consist of enrolled students–decided to secure a permanent home. And it did so the way it did everything else, cooperatively.”

The League’s search for a new home ended with its arrival at 215 West 57th Street, between Seventh Avenue and Broadway. “Three stories of the building are occupied by the League,” wrote The New York Times on October 16, 1892, “and fitted with the finest and most completely appointed, best ventilated and lighted classrooms and studios devoted exclusively to art instruction in the world.” This relocation proved to be an advantageous one for the League, then and now. 

In 1968, the organization’s 57th Street location gained designation status as a New York City landmark and later appeared on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The League’s former location on East 23rd Street, eventually become an SRO hotel known as Kenmore Hall. It was a reported “hotbed” for crime before its 1999 renovation and conversion into affordable housing for individuals coming out of the city’s shelter system, persons living with HIV/AIDS, and homeless veterans. Also, in 1999 the Kenmore received a Best Practice Award from HUD and was named a Finalist for a Fannie Mae Foundation Maxwell Award for Excellence. 

As the Art Students League of New York commemorates the organization’s 132 years in the City, including the Flatiron District, it remains “a place where you are an artist if you say you are,” noted The New York Times on September 9, 2005. “Nobody–except maybe a fellow painter with outsize ambitions and an unrequited crush–is likely to say: “You're going nowhere. You're not cool.” And if somebody does, fine. Don't leave. Show up on time for class, get down to business and feel a New York art monument, one that we can all be a part of, breathe.”

Flatiron Faces

Flatiron Faces: Christian Nimand Jansen, Director of Nutrition, Dr Smood

Meet Christian Nimand Jansen, Director of Nutrition at Dr Smood, an organic cuisine café located at 1151 Broadway, between 26th and 27th Streets, in the Flatiron District. “For people who have busy schedules and need healthy food on the go,” says Jansen, “Dr Smood can provide the fast casual experience with the healthiest food possible.” According to the recent health and wellness trends report At the (Healthy) Heart of New York City issued by the Flatiron Partnership, the health and wellness industry has grown significantly in the district. Here, Jansen shares his expertise on Dr Smood’s approach to nutrition, his favorite foods, and maintaining his work-life balance.

1. Briefly describe your position as Director of Nutrition at Dr Smood.

I’m involved in the R&D (research and development) and product creation from ideation to launch in our stores, which includes internal nutritional education and staying up-to-date with the latest research.

2. Dr Smood was founded by Danish businessman René Sindlev and his wife Patrizia, who wanted to create cafés with organic and healthful cuisine backed by real nutrition science. What led you to work with the Sindlevs? And can you share with us the meaning behind the company’s name?

I met René back in Denmark while finishing my studies in 2014. It was actually during the first tasting of our Performance Bread, where he also shared his vision of this new concept, of what was to become Dr Smood: Smart Food (Smood). It’s the dream of moving away from highly processed fast food and essentially create the healthy “fast food” of the future, which revolves around wholesome certified organic ingredients, all sourced from the best farms. 

3. Dr Smood’s food menu consists of health benefits linked to six moods: Power, Beauty, Immunity, Detox, Energy, and Health. Tell us more.

The moods are meant to guide and simplify what to choose, depending on what you’re “in the mood” for. For example, if you’re looking for higher protein content, you go for the Power mood. If you’re feeling under the weather or simply want to keep your immune system in high gear, you go for the anti-inflammatory foods from the Immunity mood. It’s important to note that nutrition is very complex and even though each mood has specific characteristics, there will always be many benefits since nutrients have multiple functions within the body.

4. What are some of your favorite Dr Smood items? Do you have any new items you’re working on that you’d like to share?

If I had to chose one item that I could eat every day, it would be our avocado toast with wild salmon, the matcha latte made with our cashew mylk and a ginger-lime booster. Without getting too nutritional, I feel those give me the best all-round protein, fat, and fiber for satiety, it’s easy to digest and the L-theanine found in matcha gives a mental focus boost. The ginger-lime also helps with digestion and to reduce any inflammation. And it doesn’t hurt that it tastes amazing too.

We’re currently working on some more hearty grain and salad bowls for our winter menu, which allows for more lunch and dinner options, along with Dr Smood-styled baked goods for those with a sweet tooth to compliment their coffee.

5. You've earned a college degree in global nutrition and health. What initially led you to consider a career in nutrition? What’s the best advice you can offer to those who are interested in pursuing a career in nutrition?

I grew up playing tennis and golf on a rather competitive level, which led me into a very active lifestyle in my late teens. I think it’s a natural process, that you start learning about the role food and nutrition plays in order to train and recover more efficiently. I quickly realized that just scratching the surface of nutrition and physiology wasn’t enough for me, and got very hooked on the science behind food.

My best advice for anyone wanting to study nutrition is staying up to date with relevant research and put ego or beliefs aside. It’s so easy to be biased and subjective, which can lead you to be very narrow-minded or force your own reality to fit the actual science or lack of science. I would recommend that you stay open and be prepared to be proven wrong on what you read or heard.

6. What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about nutrition? Any wacky nutritional myths you’d like to clear up? What do you do to keep up to date with your profession?

The more I learned, the more I realized how much we still do not understand completely in the nutrition field. I see a lot of trends surfacing and many people giving in to such trends in order to stay relevant.To be honest, I think that people should be hesitant to follow anyone’s advice, whose blindly claims that they have the one true answer to all your lifestyle diseases or issues. I try to follow those that are considered expert researchers in each of their fields and more often than not, they stay humble and honest about the fact that we actually know very little about the full picture of nutrition and health.

In the end, it’s never a one size fits all and rather than trying to debunk a myth, my best advice is to find what works for you and then stay consistent and be patient. I’ve always had the best results when either having specific goals, short- or long-term or some kind of accountability partner in the form of a coach or friend to be part of my journey from point A to B.

If veganism, keto, fasting, bulletproof coffee, celery juice, Weight Watchers, etc. works for you and you can commit to it long term as a lifestyle, I don’t see anything that should prevent you from doing it. Obviously, some might be more overall effective than others, and simply adding butter to your coffee probably won’t make you reach a weight loss goal. Just don’t try to be a breatharian (living on air and light alone). I’m pretty confident that won’t go well for you.

7. Switching gears to your life outside of work–how do you like to spend your time away from Dr Smood?

When I lived in Denmark, I coached tennis while studying, which kept me pretty active. I had amazing colleagues and a great community, so most of my time was spent between the club and staying active. I lived in Miami for a couple years while we opened up the first Dr Smood there. It allowed me to have an active outdoor life with tennis, golf, scuba diving, and enjoy a bit of the Miami nightlife. I’m still adapting to New York City with the much faster pace, so my day pretty much starts with a CrossFit class at 6.30 a.m., which I feel is the best way to get a head start on the day. I’m not a morning person, but after a long day of NYC pace, I’m not sure that I’m an evening person anymore either. To unwind at home, I do binge some TV shows with my fiancée or spend time on my PS4.

8. When it’s time to grab a bite, where else do you like to dine in the neighborhood? Do you have a go-to dish?

I mostly eat home-cooked meals and get orders from Thrive Market for shelf stable products like nut butters, almond/oat mylk and bars or Misfits Market for fresh veggies that were too “ugly” and didn’t fit the requirements for the “beautiful” supermarket veggie aisles.

My breakfast is usually eggs and a smoothie at home, lunch is an avocado toast or tuna wrap and dinner is grains, greens and wild salmon, chicken, or some kind of veggie patty. I pretty consistently eat the same things, but I’m not fanatic and must admit that Shake Shack does make a pretty good burger.

9. Outside of your venue, what's a "must-see” or “must-do" hidden gem in the community?

Giving credit to my Danish heritage, the bakery Ole & Steen recently opened up in the area and they do make a very good strawberry tart and bake great rye bread, which reminds me of home.

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

Culinary. Innovative. Community.

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