Taking its name from the distinctive wedge-shaped Flatiron Building, the Flatiron District extends from 14th to 30th Streets, between Sixth and Park Avenues. Initially, it was predominantly commercial, home to numerous toy manufacturers and photography studios. In the 19th century, the neighborhood went by the moniker of Ladies’ Mile, thanks to the ritzy department stores that lined Broadway and Sixth Avenue. These retail palaces attracted the “carriage trade,” wealthy women who bought the latest imported fashions and household goods. By 1914, most of the department stores had moved north, leaving their proud cast-iron buildings behind. By the turn of the millennium, many Internet start-ups had moved to the area, earning it the nickname “Silicon Alley.”
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The Gramercy neighborhood surrounds Gramercy Park—the tranquil, gated square at the bottom of Lexington Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets. A key to the secluded green space, which was developed in the 1830s to resemble a London square, is one of the most sought-after treasures in all the five boroughs. For the most part, only residents of the beautiful surrounding townhouses and apartment buildings have access to the park. But members of two private clubs—the Players Club and the National Arts Club—and guests of the exclusive Gramercy Park Hotel can also gain entry.
To find out more about things to do, see, eat and drink in Manhattan, and discover other neighborhoods in the area, visit our Manhattan borough guide.
Map of Gramercy and Flatiron and travel information
The combined Gramercy and Flatiron neighborhoods lie east of Chelsea, running north from E 14th St to E 30th St between Fifth Ave and the East River (minus the chunk from 23rd St to 30th St between Lexington Ave and the river, known as Kips Bay). However, as with many NYC neighborhoods, the borders are disputed and evolving—NoMad is slowly catching on as the new name for the blocks north of Madison Square Park.
The area is served by the nexus of subway lines (L, N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6) that converge at 14th St–Union Sq station, offering a direct link to lower Manhattan, the Upper East Side, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx; there are further stops for the N, R and 6 at 23rd St and 28th St.
Restaurants in Gramercy and Flatiron
The best restaurants in the world—their own worst critics—are forever reinventing themselves, upping the ante year after year. On the international battlefield of glorified gastronomic destinations, Eleven Madison Park has racked up enough glittery accolades—from Michelin, the James Beard Foundation and World’s 50 Best Restaurants—to rival a five-star general’s bedazzled chest. It was already at that fine-dining pinnacle in 2010, when it tossed the traditional à la carte menu in favor of an abstract grid of ingredients meant to provoke conversations between diners and servers. Then three months ago, it scrapped that tack, too. Chef Daniel Humm and impresario partner Will Guidara—who bought the place from their old boss, legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer—are masters of reinvention, taking big gambles with bold shake-ups, instead of making gradual tweaks. And once again, they’ve ditched a winning formula, this time for a 16-course Gotham-themed meal—marked by stagecraft and tricks—that departs from the city’s upper echelons of old-world dominated fine dining. It’s a roll of the dice, with a $195-a-head asking price, but it pays off. With the new menu, a whimsical feast of nostalgic tastes and the absolute finest regional ingredients, the restaurant is as locavore-minded as Noma in Denmark—celebrating its particular urban locale—as theatrical in its own way as Britain’s wildly inventive Fat Duck. You won’t find a more purely entertaining New York dining experience outside dinRead more
New York is a rough town for newbies—whether it’s bright-eyed hopefuls yearning for a Swiftian utopia that doesn’t exist or an out-of-town chef who’s proven his culinary clout in the global arena, only to be chewed up and spat out by Gotham’s surly dining public. This city has devoured the best of them: Spain’s Dani García, Toronto’s Susur Lee and, most glaringly, France’s Alain Ducasse. Enter Enrique Olvera, the megawatt Mexico City talent behind Pujol, regularly ranked one of the 20 best restaurants in the world. His stateside debut Cosme, a bare-concrete Flatiron dining room, wasn’t met with the disregard that crippled his carpet-bagging comrades. Instead, the opposite: a bellow of buzz that hit before doors were even hinged, let alone opened. That’s because this is the Mexican restaurant New York has been missing. Olvera’s elegant, high-gear small plates—pristine, pricey and as market-fresh as anything coming out of Thomas Keller’s kitchen—more than fills that gap in New York dining. It steamrolls right over it. Tacos make a solitary appearance on the menu, in an atypically generous portion of duck carnitas ($49), cooked to the sinful midpoint of unctuous fat and seared flesh. But Olvera’s single-corn tortillas pop up frequently, from a complimentary starter of crackly blue-corn tortillas with chile-kicked pumpkin-seed butter to dense, crispy tostadas ($17) dabbed with bone-marrow salsa and creamy tongues of uni. Those soft corn rounds accompany the cobia al pastor (Read more
This massive food and drink complex, from Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich, sprawls across 42,500 square feet in the Flatiron District. A spin-off of an operation by the same name just outside of Turin, Italy, the store’s retail maze and six full-service restaurants include a rotisserie with the city’s best flame-roasted chickens, an awe-inspiring display of hard-to-find produce (plus an in-house “vegetable butcher”) and the meatcentric white-tablecloth joint Il Manzo, which serves a gorgeous tartare of Montana-raised Piedmontese-breed beef. Taking in the full bounty can be a challenge; to filter out the noise, check out TONY’s handy cheat sheet.Read more
Offal-loving partner Mario Batali and protégée Andy Nusser (Babbo, Po) broke new ground by serving dishes that less adventurous tapas restaurants seem to shy away from: cock’s combs with cèpes, excellent fried sweetbreads in an almond-flour batter. Non-organ lovers should try the juicy skirt steak atop romesco sauce or the iconic fried duck egg on mound of sautéed fingerling potatoes, all topped with shaved salt-cured tuna. Dishes come straight from the open kitchen into the dining room, which is adorned with mosaic tile floors and lined with wine bottles. For a cheaper option, head to the adjacent Bar Jamón, serving a more casual menu of treasured Iberico hams, bocaditos and an impressive selection of Spanish cheeses.Read more
Attractions in Gramercy and Flatiron
RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions This 21-story Beaux Arts edifice once dominated midtown. Although it’s now dwarfed by other structures, when it debuted in 1902, the triangle-shaped monolith represented the threat and the thrill of modernity: Naysayers claimed it would never withstand the high winds plaguing 23rd Street, while revered photographer Alfred Stieglitz—who captured it in an iconic shot in 1903—wrote that it was “a picture of a new America still in the making.” Today, it’s possibly the least tourist-friendly New York landmark. The space above the ground-floor shops, occupied by publishing house Macmillan, is inaccessible to the public, but during office hours you can admire black-and-white photos and read a few panels on the history of the tower in its lobby. If you want to see the “point” offices (just over six feet wide at their narrowest), we suggest getting to work on the Great American Novel.Read more
This public space was a highly desirable address when it opened in 1847, and is now a verdant oasis. It hosts a series of summer concerts, including the incredibly popular Mad. Sq. Kids series, which features some of the hottest bands in kids' music. The destination is also home to Shake Shack, a summer favorite (as evidenced by the shockingly long lines) for burgers, fries and, of course, shakes.Read more
RECOMMENDED: Museum of Sex (MoSex) Situated in the former Tenderloin district, which bumped-and-grinded with dance halls and brothels in the 1800s, MoSex explores the subject within a cultural context—but that doesn’t mean some content won’t shock the more buttoned-up visitor. On the ground floor, “Action!,” which screens around 220 clips from more than 150 years of sex on film, includes explicit scenes from such (literally) seminal porn flicks as Deep Throat. Upstairs, highlights of the permanent collection range from the tastefully erotic to the outlandish. Cop a feel of one of the silicone Real Doll torsos. An 1890s anti-onanism device could be confused with the S&M gear, which includes a nine-foot steel-framed love pen donated by a local dominatrix. Also of note are the Depression-era Tijuana Bibles—raunchy comic strips showing well-known characters like Donald Duck as you’ve never seen them before—and sex machines created by keen DIYers, such as the “Monkey Rocker,” constructed from a dildo and excercise equipment (it inspired the device in the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading). The spacious gift shop is stocked with books and arty sex toys, and aphrodisiac elixers are served in a new café.Read more
RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions This park is named after neither the Union of the Civil War nor the labor rallies that once took place here, but simply for the union of Broadway and Bowery Lane (now Fourth Avenue). Even so, it does have its radical roots: From the 1920s until the early ’60s, it was a favorite spot for tub-thumping political oratory. Following 9/11, the park became a focal point for the city’s outpouring of grief. These days you'll find the lively Greenmarket in warmer months, holiday shops in the winter and a summer concert series for kids.Read more
Bars in Gramercy and Flatiron
This massive rooftop beer garden, located 14 stories above the Italian megastore Eataly, offers a direct line to one of the world’s most exciting new beer regions: an unprecedented stash of beers from the Boot, as well as innovative house-made ales reflecting trends on both sides of the Atlantic. Hops-heads will geek out over the three proprietary cask-conditioned ales brewed on the premises—the collaborative effort of craft-brew pioneers Sam Calagione (founder of Delaware's Dogfish Head), Teo Musso (Piedmont's Birra Baladin) and Leonardo Di Vincenzo (Rome's Birra del Borgo). But you don't have to be a beer nerd to appreciate the views of the Flatiron and Empire State Buildings while sipping on the unpasteurized, unfiltered suds. Fight your way through the scrum, snag a seat at the Carrara marble bar or one of the communal salvaged-wood tables and line your stomach with accomplished rustic eats (fat probusto sausages, gorgeous salumi) before letting loose on the brews.Read more
Red leather booths, mahogany tables and globe-shaped lamps amp up the vintage vibe at this Art Deco space. Co-owner Julie Reiner’s notable mixology skills have made the bar a destination, and her Beijing Pitch (jasmine-infused vodka and white peach puree) is not to be missed. The 30-foot bar, built in 1927, stays packed well into the wee hours.Read more
There is no bar to belly up to at this louche lounge. Drinks are prepared in a beautiful but half-hidden back room surrounded by gleaming examples of every tool and gizmo a barkeep could wish for. From this gorgeous tableau comes an austere cocktail list, which includes classics like the Manhattan and Negroni, and variations thereof. The 10 Gallon Hat (mescal, ancho chile, lime and pineapple) smacks of a margarita with something fiery to celebrate. And the Pinoeer Spirit, a twist on the Old Fashioned (rye, apple brandy, orgeat), is so strong it could serve itself. Who needs a barstool anyway?Read more
This Meatpacking District cocktail joint isn’t always a great bar, but it is big and inclusive: Want a vodka drink without the judgmental sneer you’ll get at stuffier joints? There are four of them on the menu here. Prefer 1990s hip-hop to 1890s ragtime? At the Tippler, Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest bellow from the speakers. The long menu includes baffling experiments like Frozen Lushies, which drown quality spirits in a sea of slush. But for all the misses of this spasmodic mixology, there are eccentric hits like the Gin & Chronic—a cheeky gin-and-tonic variation fortified with lime, allspice liqueur and citrusy whole-dried hops. Think of the place as a large-scale recruitment booth for curious drinkers, and suddenly its flaws seem forgivable—even, in the right light, charming.Read more
Shops in Gramercy and Flatiron
Walking into this Flatiron spot feels as if you’ve just stumbled upon the best stall at the flea market. Worn-wood shelves support stack upon stack of assorted rainbow-colored dishes ($1–$17), mismatched vintage china ($5–$23), toile teapots ($15–$39) and other kitschy kitchenwares. The amazingly cheap price tags make it worth battling the often-pressing crowds to stock up on assorted flatware ($1–$6 each) and glassware, including oversize stemless martini glasses ($6), elegant champagne flutes ($8) and Italian-style painted wineglasses ($5). If you’re in need of a serious discount, plunder the sale section in the back for never-before-used castoffs from restaurant and hotel suppliers. But there are plenty of affordable, freshly minted kitchen goods too. Local-specific buys include platters printed with the Brooklyn skyline ($17–$25) and Floor Plan dinnerware (from $8 for a five-square-inch “studio” to $33 for a 12-by-16-inch “penthouse”).Read more
Stationers, brides and DIYers all flock to this warehouse-like standby for custom invites and supplies for creating their own. Grab boxed cards ($10–$40), individual sheets of paper in a rainbow of shades (from $1), glassine envelopes ($5–$16) and tags ($3 and up) from its well-rounded stock.Read more
The family-owned and -operated business started in New York in 1878 and is America’s oldest hand-knitting yarn brand. But don’t be intimidated by its lineage, the studio is welcoming to all skill levels. Inside the cheerful space is a unique display of backlit translucent panels showcasing a rainbow of available yarns. You can test-drive select options at a sampling wall, drop in on free sessions with the knitting (Wed 5:30–6:30pm) or crochet (Tue 5:30–6:30pm) doctors, and browse more than 4,000 complimentary patterns available to customers. A broad range of in-store workshops ($25–$75) are also available—some even include all the necessary materials, such as “Beginning Crochet” and “Beginning Knitting” ($50 for a two-week session). Others offer discounts on materials if purchased from the studio, such as “Intro to Fair Isle/Make a Hat” ($55 for a three-hour session) and “Intro to Cables” ($50 for a three-hour session).Read more