Wicker Park’s Flat Iron Building occupies the southeast corner at the intersection of North, Damen, and Milwaukee, in the shadow of the Northwest Tower and across the street from the Urbus Orbis/Real World building. Its cast iron façade evokes New York’s SoHo district; the diagonal path of Milwaukee Avenue cuts the structure’s V-shape (Figure 4.1). Like so many buildings in the neighborhood, the Flat Iron was originally a home to light industry, now long gone. The ground-level units house boutiques, art supply stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and performance venues. Since the late 1980s, the upper floors’ studios have mainly rented to local artists-at submarket rates, insists Bob Berger, the building’s majority owner. As the block was shifting

from a blighted stretch of postindustrial decay to a hipster haven in the early 1990s, one of these artists placed a poster into a second-floor window, a still from the now-classic 1976 Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver. It shows Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, the titular taxi driver. Sporting a Mohawk, Bickle grins maniacally as he points two guns

out onto the street. This poster remained in place for years, silently presiding over the transitions of the 1990s. Over the still, a handlettered sign was inserted, reading “Welcome to Wicker Park.”