by Kevin Walsh

In August and September 2013 I worked in the Madison Square area, and so got a daily look at the Flatiron Building, one of the first skyscrapers built with an iron frame. Its elevators helped usher in the Skyscraper Era in Manhattan, and soon buildings like the Singer Tower and the Woolworth Building would start setting world building height records. At one time, NYC had the tallest buildings — we have since ceded that ambition to Middle East and Southeast Asian dictatorships.

I had never noticed what I assume to be sculptures of twin brothers, likely allegorical figures but of whom I can’t guess — on the building”wedge” facing north at 5th Avenue, Broadway and 23rd Street. It’s likely that the reason I can’t remember them is that they were absent for many years. When the building was constructed in 1902 they were placed there, but apparently never touched again, and they began to crumble and deteriorate until they were removed in 1988. What you see there now are replicas installed in 2001.

They flank a shield on which by some accounts is sculpted a fleur-de-lis, but I’m unsure what it is. If you do, and you know who the Skiddoo Twins are, let me know. (A story I still don’t believe says cops would say “23 Skiddoo!” to louts ogling ladies’ ankles when a gust of wind would come up on this corner just after the building went up.)


1 comment

Dan Bostaph September 3, 2013 - 7:21 am

Castor and Pollux, most likely.


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