Fans of New York City shopping will enjoy exploring some of the more unique opportunities available throughout the Flatiron District and Union Square neighborhoods. These vibrant areas, located side by side in the heart of Manhattan, are home to important public plazas, lovely parks, historical landmarks, and of course, terrific shopping options. Visitors to the Flatiron District and Union Square will delight in such shopping attractions as a popular farmers’ market, bookshop, kitchenware store, and more.
Getting to Know the Neighborhood
The Flatiron District takes its name from the New York City landmark that anchors it, the unforgettable Flatiron Building. The legendary architect Daniel Burnham, best known for his work in Chicago, designed this 22-story triangular structure. It sits at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and East 22nd Street, just south of Madison Square Park, the charming green space that was once the site of the first two Madison Square Gardens (the current MSG is actually the fourth arena to bear that particular name).
Union Square takes its name from the fact that it’s located where two major Manhattan streets—Broadway and Park Avenue—come together and “form a union.” Historically, Union Square has long been known as the site of some New York City’s most famous cultural protests and political rallies. It was here that both the first United States Labor Day march and Earth Day celebration took place. Today, arts-and-crafts vendors routinely line the park, and the area is full of fascinating public artworks.
Popular Flatiron District and Union Square Shopping Destinations
If you have space in your schedule for just one Union Square shopping experience, try and make it the Greenmarket. This year-round farmers’ market is a Union Square staple. Greenmarket takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 8:00am and 6:00pm. It can feature anywhere up to approximately 200 different vendors at a time, making it one of the more impressive market gatherings you’re likely to come across.
Two blocks south of Union Square you’ll find the world-famous Strand Book Store, where you can browse for that obscure novel, pick up a gift for a book-loving friend, or snag that stylish tote bag. Operating under the slogan “18 Miles of Books,” the Strand’s legendary shelves are the perfect place to get lost for a while before heading to Nordstrom Rock on East 14th Street. There you’ll encounter stylish clothes, jewelry, shoes, and a whole lot more at prices significantly lower than usual for big-name brands.
Fishs Eddy has called the Flatiron District home for over 30 years now. This beloved store is the go-to spot in Manhattan for unforgettable kitchenware. Whether you’re in the mood to pick up some vintage plates, hand-painted china, elegant dishes, or just want to take home a snarky coffee mug, Fishs Eddy will make for a distinctive and satisfying stop.
ABC Carpet & Home features four massive floors of home décor goods that tend toward the flashy end of the style spectrum. Perhaps best known for their colorful rugs and extravagant furniture, ABC Carpet & Home also sells an assortment of pillows, bedding, kitchenware, lamps, and more.
Other Ways to Enjoy the Flatiron District and Union Square
As you shop your way through the Flatiron District and Union Square neighborhoods, you’ll want to save plenty of time to savor each area’s namesake, too. The Flatiron Building remains one of New York City’s enduring symbols, while Union Square is filled with many tremendous examples of public art. Keep an eye out here for such pieces as the Union Square Drinking Fountain, Independence Flagstaff, and Metronome, a sixty-foot-tall digital clock standing at the southern edge of the park. Union Square also contains statues of such famous individuals as Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and George Washington.
The Manhattan installation of the popular Swedish contemporary photography museum Fotografiska is located in the Gramercy Park neighborhood, just steps from the Flatiron District. This cutting-edge facility regularly presents compelling temporary exhibitions that honor acclaimed artists and probe provocative topics, and it houses multiple restaurants under one roof. Special events take place here weekly, too.
The one-and-only Empire State Building is about eight blocks north of the northern edge of the Flatiron District. If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit one of this iconic structure’s two fantastic observation decks, you’ll want to leave some time in your shopping schedule to check out this inimitable attraction.