Fresh from our trip to Austin, I decided to head to the Flatiron District this week. Flatiron is bounded roughly by 25th Street and 17th Street from the north and south and 6th Avenue to Lexington Ave from west to east. Originally the neighborhood was mainly commercial and was home to various clothing and toy makers and was sometimes referred to as the Toy District. The area gets it’s current name from the iconic Flatiron Building (originally Fuller) which got the nickname from it’s wedge shape and resemblance to a clothes iron. At the time of it’s construction, the Flatiron Building was one of the only skyscrapers north of 14th St. along with the Met Life Tower. Madison Square Park is located just northeast of the Flatiron Building and provides a small relief from the hustle and bustle nearby. It is also where Madison Square Garden gets it’s name from as the original used to be located nearby. The Flatiron District can be accessed by the 4, 5, 6, N, Q, R, F, & M trains.
My first stop for lunch was the cafe at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. As the name implies, Beecher’s is know for their cheese that they make in house. When you go in you can see the workers making the cheese right there in front of you. For a quick bite to eat you can check out the cafe or just grab some of the snacks from their store; I highly recommend the cheese crackers. If you have a bit more time you can head downstairs to The Cellar for some larger portions and a drink or two. Beecher’s also has a location in Seattle, Washington. I decided to get the Caprese sandwich with their flagship cheese, tomato, mustard, and basil and naturally some tomato soup. There is nothing better and it always brings back fond memories. If you are a cheese fan then Beecher’s is a must.
This week’s bar is The Raines Law Room. It gets its name from Raines Law which, in 1896, prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sunday except in hotels. That led to saloons adding rooms and applying for hotel licenses as a loophole. At the time, this type of saloon was known as a “Raines law hotel.” The current Raines Law Room is a speakeasy style bar which is hidden behind an unmarked door down an unassuming stairwell. The only distinguishing feature was the added awning for winter. You enter by ringing the doorbell and waiting for host to answer and seat you. You will be escorted to the bar located in the rear of the establishment. There, you’ll order your drinks while you wait for a private “room.” I settled on the Crimson Fix which had a base of gin and blood orange. Normally I’d go for whiskey but after what seemed like a week of scotch in Austin I figured a break would be ideal. Be sure to call ahead and make a reservation to avoid a wait.
You can always explore the neighborhood on your own but why not have someone tell you about it along the way? That’s why I’m recommending the Flatiron District FREE walking tour. They take place every Sunday year-round rain or shine. The 90-minute tour meets at the southwest corner of Madison Square Park (23rd and Broadway) and departs at 11a.m. and will give you a comprehensive history of the neighborhood. Architecture enthusiasts should take this tour! Even if you’ve lived in New York for a year or 10 years and want to know more about your wonderful city then how can you beat a free tour?!
Here are some more pictures from around the neighborhood and a taste of what you might see on the tour.
As usual, here are the lists of other things to check out in the Flatiron District.
Milk and Honey, Flatiron Hall, Old Town Bar, Dear Irving, La Birreria, Molly’s Pub and Shebeen, Pete’s Tavern, Taproom No. 307, No Idea Bar, Flatiron Lounge, Rye House, Slate, Studio XXL, Lillie’s Victorian Esatblishment, Punch, or Breslin Bar.
ABC Kitchen, Trattoria, Boqueria, Laut, Junoon, Curry Hill, Mari Vanna, Ilili, Eataly, Live Bait, Duke’s, Eisenberg’s, Maysville, Tamarind, The Gander, Cafe El Presidente, or Upland.
Madison Square Park, Flatiron Building, Museum Of Sex, Center for Book Arts, Westside Rifle & Pistol Range (only range in Manhattan).
Flatiron Hotel, The MAve NYC, Ace Hotel, or of course an AirBnB
Photography and editing: Nick Pierce