The building was designed by Daniel Burnham in the Beaux-Arts style on a triangular island block at 23rd Street, 5th Avenue, and Broadway, facing Madison Square. Like a classical Greek column, its limestone façade is separated into three parts horizontally.
Locals took an immediate interest in the building, placing bets on how far the debris would spread when the wind knocked it down and nicknaming it "the Flatiron" because of the building's resemblance to the irons of the day. At the rounded tip, the triangular tower is only 2 meters wide. The 22-story Flatiron Building, with a height of 87 meters, is generally considered the oldest surviving skyscraper in Manhattan,though in fact the older Park Row Building (1899) is several stories taller.
The aerodynamic shape of the building led to a wind-tunnel effect up the streets on which it was situated, and in its early days, when a lady's bare ankle was a titillating sight, roués would line up along the sidewalk to catch glimpses. Police officers would then shoo the men away from their 23rd Street loitering positions; they called this the "23-skidoo." Twenty years or so later this would become a popular jeer aimed by fans at opposing athletic teams.
Atlanta also has a Flatiron Building, completed five years earlier in 1897. Officially known as the "English-American" building, it was designed by Burnham's Chicago School contemporary Bradford Gilbert. The building has 11 stories, and the same unique and prominent shape as its New York counterpart. It is the city's oldest standing skyscraper, and is protected by the city as a historic building.