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March 23, 2005

Flatiron Times
Posted by Teresa at 12:57 PM * 19 comments

Day before yesterday I got e-mail from Jake Mooney, a reporter for the City section of the New York Times. He said he was planning to do a short piece, to run this Sunday, about people who were able to get decommissioned chunks of the Flatiron Building. He wanted to talk to me about my weblog post on that subject.

I’m not quite sure how he’d heard about it. At a guess, it was because a couple of NYCentric weblogs picked up on the story: NewYorkology, on 15 March and 18 March, and Curbed, on 16 March, 17 March, and 21 March. They did running reports on the status of the stuff in the dumpster, and the last Curbed update even had a photo of the rubble there.

Which was cool.

Anyway, Mr. Mooney wanted to photograph my big chunk of the Flatiron sitting in my garden; but as I pointed out, at this time of year my garden is a flat square patch of brown mud. We settled on showing some of the smaller chunks being used as bookends. Thus it was that yesterday a photographer for the Times, Carol Halebian, turned up to take pictures of Flatiron chunks fetchingly positioned amidst the bookshelves in Tom Doherty’s office.

She and I very briefly went up to the 21st floor, where the chunks originally came from, but had to be quick and quiet about it because that floor is now re-inhabited high-end Von Holtzbrinck corporate space. While we were up there, something happened that let me know that I’ve finally become a grownup: I told Ms. Halebian that I really couldn’t give her permission to climb out the window and take pictures from the ledge, because someone was bound to get upset.

I’m still feeling really strange about that. I’ve always been the one who wants to climb out the windows and mess around on the window ledges or roof, while other people (most often Patrick) have been the ones protesting that it’s Not A Good Idea.

One last dumpster update: it’s still there, and in spite of the tarp they’ve tied down over it, there are still some interesting bits available around the edges. What the situation will be after the story runs is anybody’s guess.

Comments on Flatiron Times:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 04:50 PM:

How totally cool!

Please provide links to the article when they become available.

#2 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 04:56 PM:

Update: my brother-- who is visiting Chicago this week-- checked out the dumpster, saw only dust and bricks (within easy reach), and decided not to remove the bricks.

In fact, I would like to have a brick from the Flatiron Building, but he didn't know that, thinking we'd be interested only in decorative bits.

Now the world will discover the dumpster; by the time he gets back to the Big Apple, it'll be totally picked over. C'est la vie.

I've had my chances to acquire cool objects in life: a cardiac pacemaker rejected from the production line, a plug of insulating stuff (scorched on one side) from the underside of a Space Shuttle, a length of braided superconducting cable, a packet of sugar from an espresso shop on the Piazza Navona, a cube of aerogel, my father's Notre Dame tie. I can do without the brick.

#3 ::: Amy ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 05:10 PM:

Have been meaning to e-mail you and say thanks for the original tip ever since I posted it on NewYorkology Travel. My husband and I got a couple bricks and a hunk of somehting else I haven't yet identified - though it has a nice little curve to it. That pix on Curbed is actually mine -- and there are a couple others on my Buzznet account. (Though be warned - they were all taken without a flash using my camera phone.)

#4 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 05:22 PM:

You have always been a grownup, Teresa. You're just broadening your application of grownupness. I would have thought you'd be out there holding the light for her...but I applaud your restraint. What's more, I suspect Tom and the Von Holzbrinck folk would appreciate it deeply, if only they knew.

#5 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 12:18 PM:

Regarding application of grown-up-ness:

A couple of Mondays ago, I took the day off and dropped off my car at a repair shop to get the windshield replaced. The weather was warm and pleasant, and I decided that it would be no big deal for me to walk down to the shop to pick up the car when it was ready. I'd mapped out a route that would get me there in a little less than two hours.

So I got the call that the work was done, and set off down the road. About four-fifths of the way along my chosen route, I started to encounter Bridge Out -- Road Closed signs. Due to the annoying geography of this part of New Jersey, the nearest detour would have been four or five miles out of the way. Trivial by car, much less so on foot.

So I kept walking, confident that I would figure something out when I got to the bridge.

When I reached it, there were some sawhorse barriers, and some construction equipment near the bridge, but no people -- no construction crews, no cops, nobody (and this was during the midafternoon of a work day). I walked up to the bridge, hoping to find at least a workman's plank across which I could walk. No such luck. The only available "surface" was bare rebar -- steel rods about 1cm thick, laid in a rectangular grid about 10cm apart.

No rocks, branches, or other convenient fords to help me cross the river. No other options on the bridge itself. No witnesses in sight.

So, subvocalizing a line from an old Tom Cruise movie, I picked my way across the steel rods, my heart skipping a beat every three steps or so.

Made it to the other side in about three minutes, with no ill consequences. And thought, "It's been a long time since I did anything that foolish, dangerous, and illegal. That felt really good!"

Guess I'm not yet too grown up to be childish sometimes. But I don't think I'll pull another stunt like that any time soon.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 01:19 AM:

Jimcat, I'm envious. I mean, steel rebar, 10 cm. grid, there's no way you're going to fall through; but the little mammal in the back of your head is going to think it's possible, and hit all the happy endorphin buttons as it flails around. For real fun, try getting rigged up with a harness and a steel cable, then dropped off a 200' precipice. That'll leave you buzzed for days.

#7 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 01:49 AM:

**shuddering at the very thought.**

#8 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 06:28 AM:

I'm right there with you, Madeleine - far, far back from the edge of whatever it is.

The little mammal in the back of my head doesn't hit happy endorphin buttons. She hits harsh, loud panic buttons until they bleed. My feet get tingly and numb and I start to have to think really hard about not hyperventilating.

I hate that.

#9 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 08:37 AM:


I've done that -- harness and cable -- off a thirty meter tower. It was very cool, but the buzz lasted maybe fifteen minutes.

The CN Tower's glass floor, on the other hand, required a distinct act of will to stand on, despite a certain intellectual knowledge that the thing has been massively overdesigned from the perspective of pirouetting rhinoceri in tungsten carbide tap shoes.

Comes of having no fear of heights but a well-established fear of stuff that breaks when I put my weight on it.

#10 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 10:51 AM:

I have a hard time even watching movies of people standing in very high places. Some people have called me Wuss, but I prefer to think of myself as Coward. Or Sensible. One of my jobs, back when I was Teresa's assistant, was occasionally to grab the back of her shirt as she was crawling out on a ledge (metaphorically or otherwise) and ask her if she'd thought it all out. If she said she had, of course, I let her crawl out the window. But it still makes my intestines turn to water.

#11 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 12:15 PM:

Our youngest cat has a habit of dancing on the 2" lip outside the railing at the top landing of our staircase. It would be a long fall to the stairs or tile foyer below and it gives me the swoopy visual effects and tingly feet I would get if I were the one hanging it out there.

When my husband wired and hung the light above the same staircase, a good seven feet or so above that landing and hanging out into space, I had to hold the ladder that was supporting one of his feet (the other foot was on the railing itself). I hung on with white knuckles, unable to look and feeling quite dizzy.

#12 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 03:48 PM:

Why, Flatiron darling! What a lovely wraparound billboard you're wearing! I just happened to be walking past you today and I simply couldn't help noticing! It's new, isn't it? The way it goes from just above street-level almost to the cornice--fabulous!

Actually, I'm lying. That thing is a crime against architecture. Can we burn it? Please?

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2005, 10:58 PM:


Andrew, what have they done to the building? I wasn't in today.

#14 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2005, 12:20 AM:

Apparently H&M put a 15,200 square foot billboard on the scaffolding today. There are mentions of it here and here. I can't find a picture, but I can't imagine it looks very nice.

#15 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2005, 12:46 AM:

Dan Blum's second link says that it's only temporary.

#16 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2005, 01:49 PM:

Temporary, schmemporary. That thing is dag-nasty. I still say we burn it.

#17 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2005, 07:28 AM:

Here's the NYT story. And they got your name right!

#18 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2005, 08:35 PM:

They got her name right, but did they get the pictures right? Or are the bits booktoppers instead of bookends?

#19 ::: Angela Wilson ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 09:46 AM:

Well done! How cool is that!

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