Wind, billowing skirts, and Italian property investors…

Despite being talked up by hardy locals and the odd poet (and I mean odd), one of Wellington’s least endearing qualities is the incessant wind. The Encyclopedia of Chicago, that other famous Windy City, even attempts to shed the notion of Chicago being particular windy (in the climatic sense), by evoking:

Wellington, New Zealand, where it is more precisely meteorological.

This is all fine and dandy, accept for the fact that a recent article in the Guardian, ostensibly about Italian property investors buying a controlling stake in the famous Manhattan landmark Flatiron building, records the fact that the Flatiron building has long been associated with forceful wind velocities. That this group of Italians investors are collectors of ‘trophy buildings’, and thus are very satisfied with their latest acquisition, is remarkable enough, but the article goes on to describe one of the more infamous effects that the high wind speeds were responsible for.

Now, anyone who has ever attended a M Donn wind lecture will be able to explain that when there are only one or two taller buildings within a low-rise urban fabric, an excess of wind is brought down to ground-level around such buildings – which was the case in early Wellington, and obviously New York as well, but (for better or worse), we don’t get a whole lot of this:

In the early part of the last century, the Flatiron’s position on the corner of Broadway and 23rd Street in downtown Manhattan was blamed for unusual wind currents that sent womens’ skirts billowing. According to New York folklore, the police chased away voyeuristic men lurking in the area by uttering the phrase: “23 skidoo!”

…which just goes to make recent calls (by SBK in this Eyeofthefish thread), to develop a local Flatiron-style building on the sharp end of Te Aro Park, an even more interesting proposition…

Flatiron building, New York, Daniel Burnham,  Te Aro Park, Wellington, Shona Rapira-Davies Images by: Joep R, and Br3nda

Here’s the link to the Guardian article.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *