Asheville’s Flatiron Building

Thank goodness for Asheville’s Flatiron Building! Not only is it a cool piece of architecture, it provided the inspiration for a great sculpture that would rob buskers of prime real estate if it didn’t exist, and it also houses the SkyBar – a lofty establishment that offers great drinks and fantastic views like this:

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Last night was a perfect night for downtown Asheville, and I wanted to cap off the end of the hanging-outside-at-night season by enjoying a drink on the fire-escape of the Flatiron building. Built in 1925, during the real estate boom in Asheville when the new Battery Park Hotel, the Vanderbilt Hotel, and the Grove Arcade were all going up in the same neighborhood, the Flatiron building is the younger, smaller sibling of the giant Flatiron in New York. It is located on Wall Street and Battery Park, other names reminiscent of that larger city up North. There seems to be about a dozen other “flatiron” buildings around the country, similarly shaped, that pre-date Asheville’s, but we’re proud of it none-the-less.

Walking into what is now the lobby (the original door was at the skinny front end of the building) it feels like 1920. You press a button for the bell-hop to take you up to the eighth floor in the original elevator:

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There was a couple playing a grand piano in the lobby while we waited.

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We made it just after the sunset and it was busy, but as soon as it got dark, and a little chilly (although there are heaters and a fire pit) the crowds died down.

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We had a drink, and watched for ghosts jumping off the Battery Park Hotel (didn’t see any).

My favorite part of visiting the SkyBar is skipping the elevator on the way back down (I tipped the operator on the way up) and wandering the old halls, with its dark wooden doors, Buddhist and Acupuncture Businesses stenciled on the safety glass in gold letters. The triangular hallways are dizzying, and the old black stairs are worn in the middle from almost a hundred years of foot steps.

After we finally left the Flatiron, we followed the music to Pritchard Park. A friday night in Asheville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the drum circle. As we stood watching the crowd I though – if I didn’t live here, I would love to visit.

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