The Math Behind the Flatiron Building

By Marie Chorpita

The Flatiron building is situated at the intersection between 5th avenue and Broadway. It was built in 1902, designed to fit into the wedge-shaped space. It is often thought that the Flatiron building got its name from its shape, but the triangular region had been known as the "Flat Iron" prior to the building's construction. The building's creation initially sparked uncertainty as to whether or not the combination of the triangular base and the height would cause the building to fall down. There was also concern about the potentially dangerous wind tunnel affect that was caused by having triangular building at the intersection of two big streets. Today, however, the Flatiron Building has become one of the most popular icons of New York City.1

Construction Fun Fact: When the Flatiron Building first opened, it didn't have any women's restrooms. Management had to designate bathrooms for men and women on alternating floors.

The equation (180•75)/2 solves for the surface area of the one visible triangle. The rest of the multiplication equations solve for the area of the rectangular sides of the Flatiron Building. All of the sides and the top add up to a visible surface area of 135,000 square feet.

The equation (180•75)/2 solves for the area of the triangle base. The area of the triangle base times the height results in a volume of 1,923,750 cubic feet.

Fun Facts:

It would take just over 14,390,649 gallons of water to flood the Flatiron Building to the top. (1923750 • 7.48052 = 14,390,649.35)

One cubic foot of cocoa beans weighs 37 pounds. Therefore, if you were to fill the Flatiron Building with cocoa beans, the total weight of the beans would be 71,178,750 pounds. (1923750 • 37 = 71178750)

One cubic foot of asphalt weighs 140 pounds. If you were to cover the Flatiron Building with asphalt 1 foot thick, the total amount of asphalt would weigh 18,900,000 pounds. (135000 • 140 = 18,900,000)

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