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: Ackerman Institute for the Family and The Audre Lorde Project

As we enter the last week of  Pride Month 2020, and in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership looks back at the early history of two notable neighborhood organizations that provide support to members of the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, as well as to the  Black LGBTQIA+ community specifically–the Ackerman Institute for the Family and Audre Lorde Project.

When the Ackerman Institute for the Family relocated from Manhattan’s Upper East Side to the Flatiron District in 2006, it pledged continued support in “developing clinical projects that focus on specific populations” at their state-of-the-art facility, according to their website ackerman.org. Located at 936 Broadway, between 21st and 22nd Streets, one of the Institute’s current projects is the Gender & Family Project (GFP), which was initiated in 2010.

The Ackerman Institute is reportedly one of the best-known and highly-regarded non-profit training facilities for family therapists. Founded in 1960 by Dr. Nathan W. Ackerman, who had practiced traditional analysis, he later made an innovative clinical choice to switch to the practice of seeing patients and their family members together in a group session. This method was, in part, instrumental in the formation of Ackerman Institute projects such as GFP.

“GFP empowers youth, families and communities by providing gender affirmative services, training and research,” according to the Institute. The project “promotes gender inclusivity as a form of social justice in all the systems involved in the life of the family.” The Institute also “provides comprehensive multidisciplinary services for gender expansive children, transgender adolescents, their families and communities,” which includes “support groups for caregivers, grandparents, siblings and family members, family therapy and parental coaching, and affirmative psychological and gender evaluation.”

In acknowledgement of the Ackerman Institute’s outstanding supportive achievements, a Proclamation was announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio to designate the date of April 16, 2018 as the Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project Day in the City of New York. “The Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project does incredible work to support transgender and gender expansive youth and promote family and community acceptance of all young people,” said NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, who launched the NYC Unity Project in 2017, New York City’s first-ever, multi-agency strategy to deliver services that address the challenges of LGBTQ youth.

Now, more than ever, the Ackerman Institute stands committed “to ending violence against the trans community, outlawing conversion therapy, and call out the excessive policing and force against the LGBTQIA+ community. Committed to social justice, we stand in solidarity with the Black community at the Ackerman Institute and the world over. As family therapists, our ethics demand that we care about all people, all families, and act towards social justice. We must demand that Black lives matter and take action, especially those of us who sit with White privilege. We simply cannot be silent.” ⠀

And in 2010, the same year that the Ackerman Institute launched its Gender & Family Project, the Audre Lorde Project opened their Manhattan location at 147 West 24th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, near the Flatiron District. Lorde’s Project is best known as a community organizing center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color in New York City.

Harlem, New York native Audre Lorde was a globally-acclaimed and self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Her writing dealt primarily with issues such as feminism, lesbianism, and black female identity. Lorde once said, “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal, and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”

The Audre Lorde Project was created two years after the writer’s death in 1992. The Lorde Project “was first brought together by Advocates for Gay Men of Color, a multi-racial network of gay men of color HIV policy advocates, in 1994. The vision for ALP grew out of the expressed need for innovative and unified community strategies to address the multiple issues impacting LGBTSTGNC People of Color communities.” ALP moved into its first location, the Fort Greene, Brooklyn parish house of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1996, followed by a second location on West 24th Street in Manhattan in 2010.

“While the Audre Lorde Project will keep its church-housed Fort Greene space as a satellite,” wrote Time Out New York on September 9, 2010, “it expects its newly visible, handicap-accessible, closer-to-more-subways home to significantly broaden its reach.” Some of the events held by the Lorde Project’s new 24th Street location included TransJustice Campaign meetings.

TransJustice is a political group created by and for Trans and Gender Non-conforming people of color. “TransJustice works to mobilize its communities and allies into action on the pressing political issues they face, including gaining access to jobs, housing, and education; the need for Trans-sensitive healthcare, HIV-related services, and job-training programs; and resisting police, government and anti-immigrant violence.” 

In November 2019, however, the Audre Lorde Project announced that the organization would now operate out of one office, their location in Brooklyn. During the months of December 2019 and January 2020, the Lorde Project organized a self-described “moving party” and provided food and MetroCards to all those who offered their support.

“Because we know our work to be far from finished,” wrote the organization, “we are making this move back to Fort Greene to save, fundraise, and intentionally plan for a future in a more permanent and accessible home. Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities.”

Photo Credit: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

 

Flatiron Faces

Flatiron Faces: Luca Di Pietro, Founder of Tarallucci E Vino & Feed the Frontlines NYC

Meet Luca Di Pietro, Founder of Tarallucci e Vino NoMad at 44 East 28th Street and four other Tarallucci locations in Manhattan. Di Pietro is also the Founder of Feed the Frontlines NYC, an initiative that has been providing meals for medical personnel and individuals experiencing food insecurity. If you're in the position to do so, consider contributing to this initiative. Donations support New Yorkers, and the workers, supply chain, and restaurants that feed them.

The NoMad location has yet to reopen, but the Union Square, Upper West Side, and East Village locations have reopened with outdoor patio dining. Also, Di Pietro recently opened a new addition to his restaurant business, Il Forno, a take-out window serving the community at 15 East 18th Street. 

1. First of all, how are you and your family? 

We are doing well health-wise. It has been an incredibly challenging time, with the coronavirus and the protests tied to the horrific murder of George Floyd. We keep on going though. 

2. At the peak of COVID-19, you founded Feed the Frontlines NYC, an initiative to provide meals for medical personnel saving lives during the crisis. The initiative later expanded to also deliver meals to those experiencing food insecurity and homelessness. Briefly describe how your initiative came about, including your daughter Isabella's role in creating its website?

When Mayor de Blasio ordered all restaurants to close except for take-out and delivery, I made the painful decision to close four of our five Tarallucci e Vino locations. This meant laying off 95 of my 102 employees. A friend reached out that week to ask if she could buy meals from Tarallucci e Vino to help the business, and have them delivered to healthcare workers battling the virus. She facilitated the first delivery to the NYU Langone ER on March 19th. The nurses who met my wife and me when we delivered their dinner that night were so grateful. It was clear how tired they were, and how much this food meant to them. So, I thought this might be a way for us to do something useful during the crisis while also keeping the lights on at Tarallucci e Vino and keeping my people on payroll.

That night, I asked my daughter Isabella, who had just been kicked off her college campus, if she could build a website for us to start collecting funds for more hospital deliveries. She pulled it together with one of her classmates in 18 hours. The generosity we saw from the start, as soon as the website went up, was incredible. And Isabella has brought together several of her classmates and friends to work on the initiative since then. They have been incredible.  

3. Healthcare workers have affectionately called you and your team the "lasagna guys." Please describe the types of meals prepared for this program. What has been the response from those receiving your meal deliveries? 

Yes, people love our lasagna! We try to keep things varied–from pesto-marinated chicken with roasted fingerling potatoes to orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe to a variety of paninis made on freshly baked bread. The response has been incredible. I believe in serving food that I myself love to eat–food that's comforting, nourishing, and reminds me of my mother's kitchen in Abruzzo, Italy. Whether it's been COVID-19 nurses or veterans living in supportive housing, I think people have loved the food so much because it provides them with a sense of really being cared for, beyond the basic nutrition food can provide.  

4. To date, your campaign has raised $1.6 million to deliver 121,000 meals to over 65 hospitals and 8 shelters and supportive housing residences. Please share your thoughts on this outpouring of generosity to help those in need. What do you believe was the key to the success of this initiative?

We were overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and customers from the moment we first launched Feed the Frontlines NYC. I think people recognized right away that contributing was a way to make a concrete impact at a time when everyone had just begun sheltering in place, feeling helpless/anxious, and they understood that it was a win-win. They could help feed their healthcare heroes while supporting local businesses that make our city so great. I think we were able to raise money so quickly because people saw the immediate impact. We were sharing photos and stories with our friends and family, and on social media, so people could see for themselves. It's been heartening to see how generous New Yorkers have been. I often think back to a healthcare worker that we delivered to who said that people always say New Yorkers are mean, but the generosity of New Yorkers during this crisis proves we are not. We've been so grateful for the support, and we just hope we'll be able to sustain it even as public attention shifts, and people start to forget that hungry people and restaurants still need their support. 

5. Because of your meal delivery program, you were able to rehire more than 80 of your employees that you previously were forced to lay off. How did your employees react to returning to work and getting involved in this community effort?

Surprised that I called them back in. They were also excited to be able to help feed people on the frontlines of the crisis. Many restaurant workers residing in hard-hit communities could see the devastating effects of the pandemic firsthand. For my staff, being able to keep working while helping was quite fulfilling.

6. What advice would you like to offer businesses in the food industry? Any advice for residents of the Flatiron community?

We are relieved of the latest changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. This will give restaurants some hope to reopen. Rents are still an issue. As you know, the Flatiron area has quite high commercial rents and we hope landlords will also be able to get some relief so that they can be more flexible with tenants. As far as reopening goes, every business will need to be rational and really consider who their customers are. A business that mostly works with office employees will have the added uncertainty of whether offices will reopen right away or continue working remotely through the summer.

Tarallucci e Vino is committed to remaining a part of the Flatiron area and serving our neighbors, which is why we opened our new take-out window. We named it Il Forno–the common name for the neighborhood place where Italians buy their morning pastries, bread, and focaccia. We wanted to create a safe way for people to enjoy the simple, delicious food and drinks our neighbors know us for while featuring the amazing work of Chef Alessandro Fortini, who has been working seven days per week preparing thousands of cookies and bread for frontliners and hungry New Yorkers. We are open from 9 am to 8 pm for Alessandro's fresh pastries, breads, panini, focaccia, and Roman-style pizza, along with coffee and drinks. We hope Il Forno can be a bright spot on 18th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Broadway, and bring some comfort and life to the neighborhood at a time when it's so desperately needed. 

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