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.
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.