Il Flatiron: simbolo di New York

È uno dei palazzi simbolo di New York, il ‘ferro da stiro’. Quando fu costruito, nel 1902, molti pensavano che quella struttura così esile sarebbe crollata, e invece è ancora lì, a guardia del Flatiron District, uno dei quartieri più fashion di New York. Ce lo descrive Lester Holt, residente illustre e anchorman della NBC. Leggi l'intervista di Speak Up e ascolta l'audio cliccando il link in fondo all'articolo.

Lester Holt (Standard American accent)

When the Flatiron was built in 1902 – I think it was completed in 1903 – there were a lot of concerns3 about it, there were concerns that it might fall down because of its unique design; it’s designed like a “flatiron,” like an iron. So some people thought it might fall down. There was pride4 because I think at the time it was the tallest building in that part of New York. So it got a lot of attention. Architecturally, it was one of the first buildings that had a steel frame5 and then they built masonry6 and kind of a bow arch7 decorative design on the outside of the building. So it got a lot of attention. There was a period when that neighbourhood8 began to deteriorate. Certainly, through the 1980s and 1990s, it wasn’t that nice a neighbourhood, there was some drug activity in the nearby park, and it wasn’t a... a nice place, but there was amazing resurgence at the beginning of the 21st century there, and suddenly it became the centre of one of the most thriving9 neighbourhoods in New York – the Flatiron District – and there have been some wonderful popular restaurants there. It’s located right by Madison Square Park, which has become one of the premier parks in New York City, they spent a lot of money, you know, making it a wonderful place for people to go, and so I think New Yorkers take a lot of pride in it and they enjoy the tourists.

Flatiron NewYork

Both tourists and residents love the food:Lester Holt

One of the more popular places is a place called “Eataly,” which is a massive food emporium with the theme being Italian food, and there are Italian groceries10, Italian restaurants, there are cafes all with Italian themes, and that’s brought a lot of people into the neighbourhood. They’ve got these wonderful plazas11 out there for people to enjoy the view. It is also a place that you can stand and take in12 some of the most amazing sights in New York. You can stand and look south and look at the Flatiron Building in that impressive shape. If you then turn your body and look to the east, you’re looking at the Metropolitan Clocktower Building, which for three years was actually13 the tallest building in the world; no longer, of course, but it’s an incredible architectural gem in itself. You then turn another quarter to look to the north and you’re staring at the Empire State Building: all that in one location while you’re sitting there, by the way, at a table, on the plaza, on a lovely day, sipping your espresso or cappuccino: it’s quite lovely.

Not surprisingly, the Flatiron District has become a popular film location:

Lester Holt

The entire neighbourhood has almost become like a Hollywood lot or studio. There’s hardly a week that goes by14 that you don’t see a film crew shooting scenes for a movie, for a television show, for a commercial15. Very often I’ll sit there and watch TV and a commercial will come on and: “I know where that is!” You know, it’s 23rd Street, it’s the Flatiron Building, so there’s a great draw16 to the neighbourhood. There are also a number of art installations there. Recently the Whitney Museum of American Art had a display in the retail space17 at the bottom of the Flatiron Building of Edward Hooper’s (Hopper’s – ed)  Nighthawk(s) painting. Across the street is Madison Square Park, which has its own incredible history, and they have ongoing public art projects there. Their most recent project involves the sculptures of trees with giant rocks and boulders18 in them,  it’s quite impressive.

And the park has several secrets:

Lester Holt

A lot of people don’t realise this, but for six years the arm and, I think, the torch of the Statue of Liberty were there. And they were there to try to raise money so that New York could build a platform to put the Statue of Liberty. So for six years people could see part of the Statue of Liberty there. The area was also home to the first two Madison Square Gardens. There have been a series of stadiums, arenas called Madison Square Garden, two of them were there. In addition, at that park, many people think the game of baseball was invented, and I guess the first public baseball games were in that park. So there’s an incredible amount of history within about a three or four block19 area surrounding the Flatiron Building.

1    skyscrapers: grattacieli
2    anchors: presenta
3    concerns: preoccupazioni
4    pride: orgoglio
5    steel frame: struttura di acciaio
6    masonry: muratura in mattoni
7    bow arch: arco
8    neighbourhood: quartiere
9    thriving: fiorenti
10  groceries: negozi di generi alimentari
11   they’ve got these wonderful plazas: hanno queste piazze meravigliose
12   take in: gustare, godere
13   actually: in realtà
14   there’s hardly a week that goes by: non passa quasi una settimana
15   commercial: pubblicità
16   draw: attrazione
17   retail space: spazio adibito ai negozi
18   boulders: massi
19   block: isolato


 The Flatiron Building. Questo palazzo viene chiamato così perché ha la forma di un ferro da stiro. Ma da notare che il ferro da stiro di solito si chiama solo iron e non flatiron.

It’s quite lovely. È bellissimo. L’avverbio quite ha due significati diversi: può significare abbastanza ma anche veramente. Ma non c’è da preoccuparsi: anche i madrelingua inglesi possono avere qualche difficoltà a capire quale dei due significati il loro interlocutore voglia utilizzare!

 Nighthawk. In realtà il quadro (del 1942) s’intitola Nighthawks. A nighthawk (letteralmente “un falco di notte”) è una persona che ama la vita notturna, che preferisce dormire di giorno.

Per ascoltare l’audio dell articolo e praticare l'accento americano, vai sul sito di Speak Up

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