One of the most historical squares of the United States, Madison Square, named after James, Madison, the fourth U. S. president, is located in the well-known Flatiron district of New York City. Its importance can be guessed by the fact that the present well known Madison Square Garden that has changed various locations since its foundation bears this denomination because its earliest location was in the vicinity of this square at the 26th street and Madison Avenue.
During the mid nineteenth century the area called Madison Square Park was designed into a public space. It largely used to be a residential area in its earlier days; however, when in 1859, the 5th Avenue hotel opened there, and in 1862, A. T. Stewart moved his department store from lower Manhattan to the 9th street and Broadway, it began to emerge as the center of social life of New York City. Many big hotels as well as the retailers and the entertainment industry shifted their businesses to the area. At the start of the twentieth century, the region turned into the city’s shopping paradise. There were so many department stores that the segment of Broadway from Union square to Madison Square received the name of Ladies Mile.
Most prominent of the buildings and also the one after which the region in which it lies is named is the Flatiron Building. It was constructed in 1902 by the famous architect Daniel Burnham from Chicago. A fine combination of Gothic and Renaissance style, it is situated at 23rd street and 5th Avenue. At first it was named Fuller Building after the construction company that occupied it; soon people began to call it Flatiron for because of its triangular shape it looks like a flat cloth iron (flat iron). It is also nicknamed Burnham’s folly because by the time it was erected, people were sure it would be collapsed soon by some violent storm in future.
Next in importance to the Flatiron Building in this region is the gigantic MetLife Tower. Erected in 1909 as the new headquarters of the Metropolitan Life Insurance of New York, the 50 storey and 700 feet structure remained to be the world’s tallest building until the construction of the Woolworth Building in 1913. The marble office tower was modeled after the bell tower at St Mark’s Square in Venice. On each side of the tower a four-storey clock is fixed.
Another outstanding building in its vicinity and, of course, a recent addition, is the One Madison Park, a residential skyscraper bearing also the name Saya. A tower made of glass by Cetra/Ruddy architects in 2009 contrasts well with its neighboring older buildings. It is the only residential tower in its neighbourhood.
One of the most enjoyable parks in Manhattan is the Madison Square Park that is bordered by 5th and Madison Avenues and 23rd and 26th streets. Its greatest specialty is its 19th century statues as the Senator Roscoe Conkling who froze to death in the great 1888 blizzard at its southeast corner, and the statue of the civil war hero admiral David Farragut designed by Augustus St Gauden, at its north end.
As is described earlier that the original two Madison Square Gardens were located just near the square. The first of them was opened in 1879 at the 26th street and Madison Avenue. The second one replaced it in 1889, featuring a concert hall, a theatre, and a roofed garden. It remained up till 1925 when the building was demolished and the new garden was opened at 8th Avenue and 49th street. The present garden is at Penn Station.