“Manhattan has been compelled to expand skyward because of the absence of any other direction in which to grow. This, more than any other thing, is responsible for its physical majesty. It is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village – the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying that the way is up.”
If Fuller building were a person, this would be his story. More than a hundred summers ago in America, it was around the time when public smoking was declared illegal for women. A dapper young man (the flatiron building) stood at the intersection of broadway, 23rd street and 5th avenue tracing glances across the city skyline. It was a triangular piece of land where frequent waves of turbulent winds tossed up skirts while passersby fell in love with his tall charming stance and sleek tricorne (a look alike in this case). He stood there day and night welcoming scores of visitors to the heart of the city. The streets that were hardly frequented now attracted the young and old, some pulled out of hansom cabs for a courteous hat tip while kids craned their heads to the mightiest sight of him. Days grew heavy with obvious stares and hushed whispers that he pretended to ignore. Slenderest, most aquiline structure, one said. He was the talk of the neighborhood, the substance of the city’s most reported love affair albeit a curious three sided story. It was the birth of a historic moment for the identity of 5th avenue. He lived to be more than a hundred, through evolution into the 21st century.
Many weeks ago, on a Friday in June, the sun decided to bring more light into our days. It felt wonderful, the city looked magical. The tulips loved it, shooting out of its bulbs in reds and yellows. Two months later, it continues to be generous. New York streets are now like an overly baked piece of cake. The goodness is in there but it is way too over-baked to enjoy. So while the summer played games with my mind to coil up in a cozy little air-conditioned corner what happened instead were numerous ambles in the lower Manhattan neighborhood. On one such afternoon, I took my seat under the cozy shades of a large street umbrella along the edge of Madison square park. The main course on the menu was a beautiful view of the Flatiron building, a right triangle limestone and terra-cotta grande relished with a delicious sip of hot chocolate. The city bakery (from a couple of streets south of Flatiron district) serves undeniably the best hot chocolate in New York. It’s a thick and creamy delight with a velvety chunk of homemade marshmallow. The ritual – always get a hot chocolate takeaway to savor the landmark. Bon appetit.
The beginning of this post is a quote by E.B White from Here is New York.