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Guide to the Thomas Holman Collection of
Flatiron Building Photographs and Ephemera
circa 1902-2004 (bulk, 1903-1909)
 PR 372

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 05, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Holman, Thomas Seth, 1953-2015
Title: Thomas Holman collection of Flatiron Building photographs and ephemera
Dates [inclusive]: circa 1902-2004 (bulk, 1903-1909)
Abstract: A small collection of visual representations of Manhattan's iconic Flatiron Building (1902), in photographs, prints, stereographs, on postcards, sheet music and magazine covers, and dining menus, assembled by art historian Thomas Holman.
Quantity: 1.25 Linear Feet (in 3 boxes and 1 oversize folder)
Call Phrase: PR 372

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Historical / Biographical Note

Manhattan's iconic Flatiron Building, designed by architect Daniel H. Burnham and completed in 1902 on the triangular gore formed by the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street, was originally called the Fuller Building for its original owner, the George A. Fuller Company architectural firm. Its popular, and now official, name, comes from its similarity to the shape of a cast-iron clothes iron. To some early sightseers it even resembled a ship, its prow aiming north up Fifth Avenue. The building's shape, combined with its height, causes gusty downdrafts near its "cowcatcher" at 23rd Street. This gave rise, it is believed, to the phrase "23 Skidoo," said by police officers to chase away men who lingered on the corner in hope of catching a glimpse of forbidden female stocking bared by the wind. Images of the Flatiron Building have appeared on countless advertisements, postcards, souvenirs, sheet music covers, paintings, and photographs. Even the surrounding neighborhood, the Flatiron District, bears its name. The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1966. For more, see Alice Sparberg Alexiou's 2010 book, The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose With It, available at the New-York Historical Society's Patricia D. Klingenstein Library (call no. F128.8.F55 A44 2010).

Native New Yorker Thomas Seth Holman (1953–2015), assembler of the present collection, was an author, art historian, and private art advisor who held degrees from Macalester College and the University of Chicago and also studied at Oxford and the University of Vienna. Holman filled curatorial and directorial positions at the Albany Museum of Art, the Forum Gallery, the Hudson River Museum, the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Norton Museum of Art. His main, personal, collecting focus was on souvenirs of the Grand Tour of the 18th and 19th centuries, when wealthy young Englishmen traveled the European continent in pursuit of the knowledge of languages, history, art, and architecture.

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Scope and Contents

Art historian Thomas Holman collected visual representations of the Flatiron Building. Since its completion in 1902 the popularity of the skyscraper has ensured its continued appearance on advertisements, postcards, menus, sheet music covers, and greeting cards. Photographs of the building, and commercially-produced stereographic views abound. While not extensive, Holman's collection is probably strongest in its postcards (see Box 2, Folders 2-17), most of which date from the early 20th century and depict the Flatiron under construction, and, once completed, during daylight, nighttime, and snowstorms. Some cards make humorous reference to the phrase "23 Skidoo" by showing women's skirts flying on the Flatiron's windy corners.


The collection came to the New-York Historical Society in no discernible order. It has been organized alphabetically by format under the following categories:

• book

• calendar

• dining menus

• exhibition catalog

• greeting cards

• map

• periodical

• photographic negatives [GLASS]

• photographs

• postcards

• prints

• sheet music

• stereographs

• toy

• unrelated material

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Calendars
  • Glass negatives.
  • Greeting cards
  • Mechanical toys
  • Menus.
  • Periodicals
  • Postcards.
  • Prints (visual works).
  • Sheet music.
  • Stereographs
  • Tourist maps

Subject Places

  • Flatiron Building (New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from: Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270. Fax: (212) 579-8794.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Thomas Holman Collection of Flatiron Building Photographs and Ephemera, PR 372, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Materials

Additional postcards of the Flatiron Building may be found in the New-York Historical Society Postcard Collection, (PR-054), box 44, and additional stereographs are located in the Stereograph File, (PR-065), box 31.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Thomas S. Holman in memory of Merton Holman, 2013.

Processing Information

Arranged by Processing Archivist Joseph Ditta, October-November 2018.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Book | Nancy Groce, New York: Songs of the City

Scope and Contents

Reproduces several sheet music covers depicting the Flatiron Building.

Oversize: FF Calendar | Flatiron Building 1997 Calendar
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Dining menus (2)

Scope and Contents

• Flat Iron Restaurant [in Flatiron Building], Five Hundred Members Night Banquet, National Lodge No. 209, F. & A.M., Friday, April 27th, 1906

• Flatiron Diner & Baking Company [18 West 18th Street], Preview Menu, December 1996

1906, 1996
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Exhibition catalog | The Prowed Tower: Early Images of the Flatiron Building

Scope and Contents

Catalog for the exhibit "The Prowed Tower: Early Images of the Flatiron Building," curated by Bruce Weber at the Berry-Hill Galleries, 11 East 70th Street, Manhattan. The exhibit ran from November 14 through December 28, 1991.

Box: 2 Folder : 1 Greeting cards (4)

Scope and Contents

Four greeting cards (two inscribed to Thomas Holman) depicting the Flatiron Building.

Box: 1 Folder : 4 Map | Flatiron District Visitors' Guide (2)
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Periodical | Fame: A Journal for Advertisers (vol. 36, no. 5)

Scope and Contents

Flatiron Building on cover.

1927 October
Box: 1 Folder : 6-9 Periodical | Flatiron News (4 folders)

Scope and Contents

Five issues of the Flatiron News: vol. 1, nos. 1-3, and vol. 2, no. 5. The Flatiron Building appears on some covers, and as the letter "I" in the magazine's title.

Box: 1 Folder : 10 Periodical | Where New York

Scope and Contents

Flatiron Building on cover.

1995 April
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Photographic negatives [GLASS] | Broadway, north to East 19th Street
1913 November 2
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Photographic negatives [GLASS] | Broadway, north to East 23rd Street (at Flatiron Building)

Scope and Contents

Includes a print made from the glass plate.

1913 November 23
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Photographs | Flatiron Building site (1)

Scope and Contents

Modern, mounted 8 x 10-inch print of a historic photograph.

circa 1902
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Photographs | Flatiron Building under construction (1)

Scope and Contents

Modern, mounted 8 x 10-inch print of a historic photograph.

circa 1902
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Photographs | Flatiron Building (1)

Scope and Contents

Modern, mounted 8 x 10-inch print of a historic photograph.

Box: 1 Folder : 16 Photographs | Flatiron Building (4)

Scope and Contents

Modern, mounted 8 x 10-inch prints of historic photographs.

Box: 1 Folder : 17 Photographs | "Seeing New York" tour bus at Flatiron Building (1)

Scope and Contents

Modern, mounted 8 x 10-inch print of a historic photograph.

Box: 1 Folder : 18 Photographs | Aerial view (1)

Scope and Contents

Modern, mounted 8 x 10-inch print of a historic photograph. A notation on verso of the mount reads "Madison Square aerial overview [looking] south towards Union Square with U.S. Navy Planes, 1930."

Box: 2 Folder : 2 Postcards | "23 Skidoo" (5)

Scope and Contents

Five postcards featuring the phrase "23 Skidoo," which is thought to have originated near the prow of the Flatiron Building, at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street, where men lingered to catch sight of female ankles exposed by the downdrafts blowing off the skyscraper. Police officers, wise to what they were doing, would chase them away with a "23 Skidoo."

circa 1907-1916
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Postcards | Flatiron Building alone (35)
circa 1903-1913
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Postcards | Flatiron Building and vicinity (14)
circa 1904-1909
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Postcards | Flatiron Building foldout (2)

Scope and Contents

Two wooden or paper-board postcards of the Flatiron Building, with center panels that pull out to reveal other New York City sights.

circa 1905
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Postcards | Flatiron Building holiday and souvenir greetings (8)
circa 1904-1912
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Postcards | Flatiron Building humorous (4)
1907, 1908, 1992
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Postcards | Flatiron Building lenticular printing (1)

Scope and Contents

A lenticular printed postcard that, when tilted left or right, displays alternate views of the Flatiron Building and the structures it replaced.

Box: 2 Folder : 9 Postcards | Flatiron Building modern (6)
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Postcards | Flatiron Building night views (10)
circa 1905-1909
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Postcards | Flatiron Building real photo (3)
circa 1904-1920s
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Postcards | Flatiron Building romantic (7)

Scope and Contents

Views depicting male-female couples strolling near the Flatiron Building, or dropping letters into a mailbox near the skyscraper.

circa 1907-1909
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Postcards | Flatiron Building under construction (2)

Scope and Contents

Note that the date of circa 1907 refers to the approximate year these cards were published, not the construction of the Flatiron Building, which was completed in 1902.

circa 1907
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Postcards | Flatiron Building windy corner (6)

Scope and Contents

Humorous views depicting hats, umbrellas, and skirts flying in the downdrafts of the Flatiron Building.

circa 1902-1909
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Postcards | Flatiron Building winter scenes (2)
1906, 1908
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Postcards | Seeing New York

Scope and Contents

Two postcards and an advertisement for the American Sight-Seeing Car and Coach Company's "Seeing New York" tour bus, which operated from the Flatiron Building.

Box: 2 Folder : 17 Postcards | New York Skyscrapers Souvenir Folder

Scope and Contents

Includes a view of the Flatiron Building.

circa 1913
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Prints (2)

Scope and Contents

Two printed images of the Flatiron Building after a 1902 photograph by C. L. Ritzmann that were apparently cut from periodicals.

Box: 1 Folder : 20 Sheet music | Don't Blame it All on Broadway

Scope and Contents

Front cover depicting the Flatiron Building, and first page of the song by Bert Grant to lyrics by Harry Williams and Joe Young.

Box: 2 Folder : 18 Stereographs (3)

Scope and Contents

• A.C. Co., 1925 | 33. "Flat Iron Building, New York City."

• Geo. W. Griffith, n.d. | 2783. Flatiron Building and Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.

• International Stereograph Co., 1904 | 21606. "The Celebrated "Flat Iron" Building, Broadway and Fifth Avenue, New York City, U.S.A."

Box: 2 Folder : 19 Stereographs (4)

Scope and Contents

• Keystone View Company, 1903 | 13504. "Flat iron" Building, Fifth Avenue and Broadway, New York, N.Y., U.S.A.

• Keystone View Company, n.d. | 13504. "The Flatiron Building, Fifth Avenue and Broadway, New York, N.Y."

• Keystone View Company, n.d. | V23215. "Flatiron Building (S), Most Remarkable Business Structure on Earth, New York, N.Y."

• Keystone View Company, 1904 | 13772. "Up Broadway and Fifth Avenue from Flat Iron Building, New York, N.Y., U.S.A."

Box: 2 Folder : 20 Stereographs (2)

Scope and Contents

• "Perfec" Stereograph, 1903 | 10. "Most striking of Sky-scrapers,—the "Flatiron" Bldg., (20 Stories) Broadway, New York, U.S.A.

• William H. Rau, 1904 | "New York's Celebrated Flatiron (Fuller) Building, Intersection of Broadway and 5th Ave. (20 Stories, 286 Ft. High).

Box: 2 Folder : 21 Stereographs (2)

Scope and Contents

• Underwood & Underwood, 1903 | 99. "The Famous Flatiron Building—most remarkable commercial building in the World, New York"

• Underwood & Underwood, 1904 | (99)-5316. "The famous Flatiron Building—most remarkable commercial building in the world, New York"

Box: 2 Folder : 22 Stereographs (1)

Scope and Contents

• No publisher, n.d. | "Flat Iron Building and View of Fifth Avenue."

Box: 3 Toy | Car with "23 Skidoo" slogan

Scope and Contents

Red tin toy convertible coupe jalopy by Linemar toys, the Japanese-manufactured division of Louis Marx and Company, covered with slogans like "10 Miles to a Gal," "Sit Here and Be on Top," "Dig This Crazy Car," and "23 Skidoo."

Box: 1 Folder : 21 Unrelated material | map

Scope and Contents

Larry Wolfe Horwitz's Official Map of Movie Stars' Homes, New York City

Oversize: FF Unrelated material | poster

Scope and Contents

Poster announcing the route of "Disney's Hercules Electrical Parade / Midtown Manhattan / Saturday, June 14, 1997 / 9 pm to 11 pm."

Box: 1 Folder : 22 Unrelated material | transit ephemera

Scope and Contents

Six copies of an MTA / New York City Transit leaflet outlining subway entrance restrictions at Penn Station, street closures, and bus reroutings during the 2004 Republican National Convention, held at Madison Square Garden, August 30 through September 2.


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