The 23 Skidoo

The Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building

This post is basically a ping-back to a post that Raincharm made earlier this month. In that post Raincharm quoted Wikipedia for an explanation of the phrase, “23 skidoo”. Really all that I have to add here is a photograph of the NYC landmark, the Flatiron building, at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue and 23rd Street, in Manhattan. Per Raincharm here is the Wiki story:

Perhaps the most widely known story of the origin of the expression concerns the area around the triangular-shaped Flatiron Building at Madison Square in New York City. The building is located on 23rd Street at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, and, due to the shape of the building, winds swirl around it. During the early 1900s, groups of men would allegedly gather to watch women walking by have their skirts blown up, revealing legs, which were seldom seen publicly at that time. Local constables, when telling such groups of men to leave the area, were said to be “giving them the 23 Skidoo”.

Again per Raincharm, Wiki goes on to elucidate:

It is at a triangular site where Broadway and Fifth Avenue—the two most important streets of New York—meet at Madison Square, and because of the juxtaposition of the streets and the park across the street, there was a wind-tunnel effect here. In the early twentieth century, men would hang out on the corner here on Twenty-third Street and watch the wind blowing women’s dresses up so that they could catch a little bit of ankle. This entered into popular culture and there are hundreds of postcards and illustrations of women with their dresses blowing up in front of the Flatiron Building. And it supposedly is where the slang expression “23 skidoo” comes from because the police would come and give the voyeurs the 23 skidoo to tell them to get out of the area.

We took this picture at 6 AM on a Sunday morning in late May, 2009. We were in NYC for a bicycle ride, naturally, the Five Boroughs Ride. We had left our Times Square hotel and were cruising down Broadway, on our way to Battery Park. This was in the city that never sleeps, but at that hour, it was certainly taking a rest. We cruised down Broadway, with nary a car moving on the street. The only traffic that we encountered on our way was the steadily growing bike traffic that we encountered as we headed south. I must say that this unexpected encounter with the Flatiron building was probably the high point of that ride. You see it started to rain shortly afterwards and rained for the rest of the day.

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