Seeing New York City, at the Flatiron Building

New York tours at the Flatiron Building, around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same scene in 2014:


New York City sightseeing tours are nothing new, although the vehicles in the 1904 photo hardly resemble the tour buses that now roam the streets of New York.  Taken along the Fifth Avenue side of the Flatiron Building, the 1904 vehicles advertise that tours start at the “Flat Iron Building,” even though the sign above the door of the building is marked with its then-official name, the Fuller Building.  The vehicles also state “Telephone Connection,” which I presume means that the tour offices have a telephone.  One would think that the number would also be provided, though, but perhaps back then all one needed to do was tell the operator to connect them with “Seeing New York.”  The tour buses also look incredibly dangerous – there are no seat belts or other safety equipment, and it’s a long way down if anyone falls off.  I don’t know what eventually became of the company, but the Flatiron Building is still there, as is the other building visible to the right.

Flatiron Building, New York City

The view of the Flatiron Building around 1902. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same scene in 2014:


Another view of the Flatiron Building, looking south with Broadway on the left and Fifth Avenue on the right.  Besides the Flatiron Building, a few other ones still exist from the 1902 photo, including the  building with the gold dome to the right, and the short, yellow brick building just beyond the Flatiron Building along Broadway.  Notice the horse-drawn cabs along the side of Broadway – this photo was taken from almost the same location as this one, except in the road instead of along the sidewalk.

Flatiron Building from Madison Square Park, New York City

View of the Flatiron Building around 1903. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The same view in 2014:


Built in 1902 on a triangular plot of land between Broadway and Fifth Avenue at Madison Square, the Flatiron Building remains one of New York’s most distinctive skyscraper.  At the time of its completion, it was one of the first skyscrapers outside of the downtown area, and the first north of 14th Street, which set the stage for subsequent skyscrapers that now dominate the midtown skyline.