Saturday, January 25, 2020

Neighborhood Discovery: New York's Hot, Hip Flatiron District

By Jacquelin Carnegie
The Flatiron
Flatiron building (photo: Joan Gramatte/WikiCommons)
district runs roughly from 23rd Street to 29th Street, from Park Avenue to Sixth Avenue. In the mid-1800s, this area was one of New York’s most fashionable with posh hotels surrounding Madison Square Park. Then, it fell out of fashion, becoming rundown and neglected. 
But now, there are so many new, trendy hotels, restaurants, and shops opening up, it's hard to keep track. Once again, the neighborhood is a hot spot. In fact, part of the Flatiron district even has a new moniker: NoMad (North of Madison Square Park). Time to come explore the 'hood!
Flatiron Building
175 Fifth Ave, at 23rd St
The neighborhood gets its' name from this triangular-shaped building, completed in 1902. Designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, the 22-story, Renaissance palazzo-style structure was the world’s first steel-frame skyscraper, now a National Historic Landmark. Famed photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen helped turn it into a New York icon.

Madison Square Park
23rd to 26th St (btw Fifth & Madison Ave);
Conjoined (artist: Roxy Paine)

Named after President James Madison, this tranquil spot has been a public space since 1686 and a city park since 1847. In the late 19th century, the Square, surrounded by mansions and fancy hotels, was an elite, Manhattan enclave. Today, it’s a lively, neighborhood park with year-round, contemporary art displays and a great free concert series in the summer and fall.

These trendy hotels and restaurants have revitalized the area:
Ace Hotel
20 West 29th St; Tel: 212/679-2222;

(photo: Courtesy Ace Hotel)
This cool, 260-room hotel is very popular with hip musicians. Even the lobby, with bar and lounge, is a hot spot. The in-house eateries are also ultra-trendy: The Lobby Bar, the Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and the Milk Bar for dessert fans.

Royalton Park Avenue
420 Park Ave. So (at 29th St); Tel: 212/317-2900;
This stylishly-hip hotel has 249 rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and fashionably-modish décor. There are fabulous views everywhere you turn, especially from the tri-level Rooftop Bar + Lounge with a heated, indoor-outdoor, plunge pool overlooking the Empire State building! 

(photo: Courtesy Royalton Hotel)
Eventi - Kimpton Hotel (851 Sixth Ave, at 30th St; - This hotel has 292, contemporary-decorated guestrooms. It’s pet-friendly and close to Madison Square Garden, for sports' fans.
The Evelyn (7 East 27th St; - Formerly The Gershwin, the hotel's 159 rooms and public spaces have been renovated to showcase its' Art Nouveau style and music & art heritage.
Hotel Henri (37 West 24th St; - There are 118 rooms and the hip Penthouse Rooftop Bar, Sir Henri, with skyline views and speakeasy-style cocktails. (While closed for renovations in 2022, try their Hotel Hayden, 127 W 28th St.)

With new places opening every day, it's hard to mention them all, but here are a few good ones to start with:
(photo: Aretemetric/WikiCommons)

23rd St & Fifth Ave; Celebrity chef Mario Batali’s Italian gourmet market with dining options is another in-spot. Packed to the gills at all hours of the day and night, but worth a visit if you’re a die-hard foodie.
The Shake Shack
23rd St., bet Fifth & Madison Ave., in Madison Square Park; Tel:212/889-6600; 
If you want to stand in line for 45 minutes to get a burger, look no further. Devotees say it’s worth the wait. It certainly makes for great people watching. (Outdoor seating is winterized.)
(photo: Beyond My Ken/WikiCommons)

Hill Country BBQ
30 West 26th St; Tel: 212/255-4544;
Chow down on some authentic, Central Texas barbecue cuisine. Plus, hear good country music in the downstairs club.
Hill Country Chicken (1123 Broadway, at 25th St.; Tel: 212/257-6446; - This fried chicken place is run by the same crew. The food is served cafeteria-style (get a tray, get in line). Both kids and adults will enjoy the fun, friendly atmosphere.
Sarabeth’s (381 Park Ave So, at 27 th St; - Great American cuisine. 
Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop
174 5th Ave (at 22nd St); Tel: 212/675-5096; (Closed during COVID)
If you wish nothing had changed in New York since 1929, when this place opened, you’re in luck. Classic deli sandwiches, burgers, and egg platters served with quintessential New York charm.

Here's some of the trendy shops bringing a new vitality to the area:
Flatiron building
Marimekko (200 5th Ave, at 23rd St; - Famous Finnish design house known for its' colorful apparel & home decor.
Rizzoli (1133 Broadway, at 26th St; - Prestigious bookstore.
Todd Snyder (25 East 26th St; - Hip menswear.
Perfume & Faux Bling: Broadway from 26th to 31st Street is lined with stores selling discounted perfume, costume-jewelry “bling,” pocketbooks, and electronics. Many are “wholesale only,” but you’ll find several retail ones as well. Go soon before they’re all replaced with trendy boutiques.

There are some wonderful museums to explore right in the 'hood: Fotografiska NYC - The new photography museum; Poster House - Dedicated to poster art; MoMath - Great for kids; and the Museum of Sex - Of interest to adults.
Explore all there is on offer now that this lovely area is in vogue again!

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