Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Original Construction Guys: Lunch Atop A Skyscraper


Brian Finke's portrait series of construction workers is the perfect glimpse into the trade as it continues to evolve in the 21st century, but when someone talks about "construction" one particular image almost always comes to mind. This picture depicts the nonchalance of a group of construction guys set against vitality of a growing urban landscape and has forever been associated with 20th century New York City. This is the 1932 photograph "Lunch atop a Skyscraper".

"Lunch atop a Skyscraper", otherwise known as "New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam", shows a crew of construction workers sitting in a row on a girder hundreds of feet above the ground without any other kind of support. The men are talking and smoking while taking out their lunch boxes and generally not paying any special attention to the unusual setting of their lunch break. The relaxed state of the construction workers paired with the exciting backdrop of New York City hundred of feet below them has captivated viewers ever since it was first popularized.

For many years, the photographer was unknown until evidence was presented around 2001 pointing to photojournalist Charles Ebbets as the author of the image. Unfortunately, new information has recently surfaced showing that the picture wasn't a spur of the moment image, but rather a planned publicity stunt involving many other photographers. While Ebbets was certainly one of the photographers involved with the event, it's hard to conclusively say that this particular photograph is his.

This Petapixel article has a good rundown of the iconic Lunch Atop A Skyscraper image including the recent confusion with regards to its authorship. There's also a new documentary entitled "Men At Lunch" that concerns itself with the photograph and how it's affected popular media today. You can check out the trailer below.

8 comments:

Ray Rousell said...

A classic pic, it terrifies me though, how the hell can anyone work like that let alone just sit there and eat your lunch, it sends a shiver up my spine!! The documentary looks good as well, wonder if they'll show it here in the UK.

DWei said...

Interesting bit of backstory into one of the most wellknown photos ever.

Bart said...

balls of steel. I like the photoshopped pics of this pic too

Matt Neumann said...

That picture gives me vertigo just looking at it! A different time for sure..

Dale Janeé said...

Great post, I've always seen this 'lunch on the skyscraper' original and have wanted to buy a print. I think it's finally time, nice pic and cool that you shared the video too

~Dale
http://www.savvyspice.com/

A Heel in Mint said...

That looks like fun picture. Very interesting :)

Necroticism said...

Oh my! I don't like to brag, but I'd totally do this IRL. Heights don't nother me :)

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