Were Steel Workers Really This Reckless?

October 29th, 2009
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One of the most well-known photos of the 20th century, indeed an iconic image is “Lunch Atop A Skyscraper,” an image taken during the construction of the RCA Building (now the GE Building) at Rockefeller Center in 1932. The building is also known as “30 Rock” as its address is 30 Rockefeller Center. (I’m told that there is a sitcom by this name, but I’ve never seen it.) The image was taken by Charles C. Ebbets and shows a number of steel workers sitting on a girder during their lunch break, apparently dangling hundreds of feet above the streets of New York.

Granted, this was the 1930′s and construction was done with safety measures that would be considered criminally negligent by today’s standards, but still, one has to wonder if this was the kind of thing any sane person would do at any time. The workers are clearly not afraid of heights, but the danger of being on a beam that high up is very real. Each of them would need to get up from a sitting position, having only the narrowest lip of the I-beam to use as a step and then walk across to safety. A single slip would lead to death. Considering that most building projects of the time had, at worst, a handful of construction deaths, it seems that the workers would probably avoid such extreme risks whenever they could and use extreme care when so close to the edge.

A few other photographs were taken by Ebbets on the same beam and seem even more reckless and dangerous:

One can tell these are the same due to the alignment of the photos toward Central Park, the north side of the building. These photos also are stated to have taken place on the same level – the 69th floor.

These photos would seem almost suicidal, with a leg hanging off of the beam, it would be very easy to lose one’s balance. However, there are also some things that these photos reveal that are not so obvious in the most famous version. First, this is not a single beam, but rather a double-beam that would offer greater area to sit on and walk across. It also would mean that the men could more easily get up from a sitting position. The beam is very close to another beam and in the second photo, a wood plank can be seen as a means to walk off the beam.

However, a full uncropped version of the photograph provides even more evidence that things may not have been as dangerous as they at first seem. Here it has been colorized to make the evidence more obvious:

Clearly there are beams bellow these men and there are also planks of wood making a floor for the workers to stand on during construction. The beams appear to be sitting on top of the planks, perhaps set there before being used to construct the rest of the building. This would have been a fairly common practice of the time. However, the perspective of the photographer makes it difficult, if not impossible, to tell if the beams actually extend beyond where the men sit. Clearly the beams do come to an end. This is likely the exterior wall of the building.

This, however, is where the structure of the building comes into play. The top floors of the building have several roof levels, with only the center section of the building extending all the way to the highest point. These are known as “set backs” as shown in this image.

There is some confusion over how floors and levels are denoted on this kind of structure. If a setback is used as an observation deck then it may be refered to by the floor number that one would exit to go onto the deck, but the roofs of setbacks may also be refereed to by the floor that they are above. In the above diagram, the levels are noted by the floor level under them – the floor to which they are the roof.

There is also some conflict as to what exactly the “69th floor” means in the context of the construction of the building. However, based on the images and information about the photographs, it appears that the men were sitting on what would become the floor level of the 69th floor (as opposed to the ceiling level). This would put them one story above the 68th floor base level, which is only slightly above the 67th floor roof. It appears that the photographer was standing on a perch above the workers, thus putting him on the seventieth floor base level.

If this is the case, the men are not really in as dangerous a perch as it would seem, but are just a single story above a solid floor and more than ten feet from the edge of the building. Other photographs taken around the same time appear to indicate that this is likely the case.

The above photograph shows the top floors of the building around the same stage in construction as the other photographs. It was likely also taken by Ebbets. The beams shown make up the top section of the building, the 69th and 70th floors. The photographer appears to be standing on a solid floor which is being used to stack beams before they are used in the construction of the final levels of the building. Note that part of the floor has a rudimentary cable railing. The photographer is facing toward the south (the direction of the Empire State Building). It appears that the top beams may in fact be the highest level of the building and that no further floors will be added above the level where the men are walking. That would put the photographer on the ground level of the 68th floor.

Note that there is a cable to the left of the photographer, angled to the right and with four u-bolts securing it in a loop. This is one of the cables used to anchor a construction crane. It also appears that it may be the same cable seen to the left of the workers eating lunch on the beam. That would mean that the photographer is standing bellow and slightly to the north of the beam where the workers are seated. This photo also reveals the likely location of the photographer for the lunch picture – the photographer was likely standing on the 70th floor beam, which is also only one story from a solid floor and several feet set in from an exterior setback.

Some ground level photographs, which were taken only months before the Ebbets photographs were taken. Notice that the center section, although incomplete, rises higher than those to the side and that the unfinished floors have

One final photo shows something else that is even more interesting. It appears that there are structures extending out from the building, on the left they appear to only be beams but on the right, it appears that there is a rudimentary safety net or platform in place.

The use of safety nets was common practice in the 1930′s and they were used extensively in bridge construction and other types of construction where a fall would likely be fatal. The effectiveness of the nets was sometimes called into question, as they were not always very strong or well anchored and if a worker did fall into one, there was not always a safe or easy way of getting out of the net and to safety.

Practices of the time were not very safe by modern standards, but it still should be noted that even if standards were lax, they were not non-existent and workers did not have a death wish. Certainly there were times when workers did have to go out on high beams without a harness, safety net or a floor bellow them, but this is not something they would do without due care or without good reason to. Workers may also have had to go to the edge of buildings to install beams or fasten panels, but that does not mean they hung out there during their lunch break. There is a difference between being brave and being suicidal.

A closer look at the most dramatic photos of the time indicates that the workers were likely not in as much danger as the photos appear to indicate.


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009 at 12:16 pm and is filed under Culture, Good Science, History, Misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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38 Responses to “Were Steel Workers Really This Reckless?”

  1. 1
    Chuck P. Says:

    One of our managers where I work has a big print of the first photo hanging outside her office. I’ve seen that photo a thousands times without seeing it but I noticed something about it the other day:

    Look closely at the worker on the far right.
    He’s holding an empty whisky bottle!


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  2. 2
    DV82XL Says:

    Ebbets also reported that during the Great Depression potential workers would wait to see if anyone fell so they could be the first in line to replace them.


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  3. 3
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Ebbets also reported that during the Great Depression potential workers would wait to see if anyone fell so they could be the first in line to replace them.

    That seems highly suspect to me. The number of workers who actually died in these projects was high by modern standards, but not really enough to make a big difference in terms of workers for replacement.

    The Empire State Building, for example, had 3,400 construction workers, plus many more workers for subcontractors (employees of Otis Elevator, the telephone company, the company which made the heating system etc). There were 14 fatalities during construction. Even by standards of the day, this was very high.

    The Chrysler Building, by comparison, had zero fatalities during construction. No worker deaths and few serious injuries of any kind. The construction company took some measure of pride in the perfect record.

    Of the thousands who worked on the Hoover dam, about 96 died on the job, most of them from carbon monoxide poisoning and related respiratory problems due to the use of heavy diesel equipment while tunneling out the diversion tunnels. The number that died due to accidental trauma (falls, things falling on them etc) was only a handful.

    11 died during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, but all but one of the deaths occurred in one incident toward the end of construction. This was due to a notorious failure of scaffolding during the final phase of construction which killed ten men who were standing on it. If not for that incident, the death rate would be one.

    Considering those numbers, it seems that a worker death would be, at the very least, a rare event. I think it would be far more likely to see a replacement worker needed because of other sources of turnover – like a person becoming too ill to work or being transferred to another construction project or something. It seems that on the average 70-story skyscraper, you might get one a year and if it were the Chrysler building (or a few others) you’d never get a single one.


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  4. 4
    Gordon Says:

    While I am sure that the safety measures of the time would make my hair stand on end, they probably were not nearly as bad as reported. Sell papers after all, and the photographs were made to confirm a sense of fear and extremity. I am sure the workers didn’t even sit on an inside beam to have lunch, they probably just sat on the ground of the floor or sat on a bag of cement or something. The photographer probably asked them to pose like that and otherwise they wouldn’t bother eating in such an uncomfortable manner.

    There was likely some walking along beams that you could fall to your death over, but nobody does that for fun. If there’s a rivet to be pounded there, they may have, but if there wasn’t reason, then anyone with a brain in their head knows to make some effort not to expose yourself to danger like that.

    Anyone who works at heights for a while either develops a healthy level of respect for the danger or ends up getting hurt or killed, and that is true even today. If you do not pay attention and try to be safe, you can fall very easily and it’s really just a matter of time. The fact that the Chrysler building didn’t have any fatalities and that buildings of the era had, at worst, a dozen or so, shows that they were not being as careless as some might think.


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  5. 5
    Engineering Edgar Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Ebbets also reported that during the Great Depression potential workers would wait to see if anyone fell so they could be the first in line to replace them.

    Uh, if that were actually the case, and people fell off that often, making it a source of steady hiring (to replace them), I think I would have to pass on a job like that. I know work was short, but I’d rather live hand to mouth than work a job I know has a good chance of killing me. I think my biggest fear would be that I’d get pushed off the edge. If things really were like that then a worker could easily have a cousin or a brother in need of work and arange for someone to have an accident. Or maybe some unemployed guy just scraped together money to pay them to push a coworker off the side. Not my idea of a good work enviornment.


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  6. 6
    DV82XL Says:

            Engineering Edgar said:

    Uh, if that were actually the case, and people fell off that often, making it a source of steady hiring (to replace them), I think I would have to pass on a job like that. I know work was short, but I’d rather live hand to mouth than work a job I know has a good chance of killing me..

    First its accuracy may be dubious, but second, these were time when huge numbers of men were riding the rails, looking for work. This was an era of almost no social support for the unemployed, so the story would have rung true given the tenor of the times.

    I would also like to see data for the number of injuries sustained that did not lead to death, but rendered the worker unable to continue. Accidents leading to serious injury are much more common than fatal ones, in industry and construction. This might also have meant that men would have to be replaced.


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  7. 7
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    First its accuracy may be dubious, but second, these were time when huge numbers of men were riding the rails, looking for work. This was an era of almost no social support for the unemployed, so the story would have rung true given the tenor of the times.

    I would also like to see data for the number of injuries sustained that did not lead to death, but rendered the worker unable to continue. Accidents leading to serious injury are much more common than fatal ones, in industry and construction. This might also have meant that men would have to be replaced.

    Those numbers are not just dubious – they’re complete bull, as I cited above, people didn’t die like that on a regular basis. The number of injuries was probably a lot higher, but you don’t fall off of the high floors of a building like that and end up injured.

    I’d imagine if it really were that common, there would be people getting pushed off left and right to get job openings. That’s no enviornment I’d want to work in. No matter how desperate I am, if a few dozen workers fall to their death every week and every floor is a wrestling match of people trying to push each-other off the edge to get their buddy a job…

    By the way: From what I understand the turnover rate was fairly high for new workers. Despite the fact that times were desperate, there were some who simply could not bring themselves to work at those heights for any amount of money. They’d finally get the job, go up to the site and end up quivering in the work elevator, just refusing to get out for any amount of money, or they’d manage to get it for a while until the work reached a certain height or until they had to work by the edge and then just could not get to the edge or ended up just about shaking and their legs giving out like jello when they tried.


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  8. 8
    gmax137 Says:

    Interesting ‘detective work’ but please don’t tell me you are surprised to discover a photographer who uses perspective or shooting location to make a photo more dramatic. That is the essence of the art. One of the first things you learn when taking up photography is, the notion that “photos don’t lie” is a complete falsehood. Maybe the lunch wasn’t ‘really’ eaten with feet dangling 69 stories above ground, but if you went up there for lunch, I’d bet that’s how you would *feel* (see the post above “They’d finally get the job, go up to the site and end up quivering in the work elevator…”). So, what Ebbets has done is to create an image that gives you some of that feeling, just by looking at it. In other words, art.


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  9. 9
    Joel Upchurch Says:

    The thing I notice in all the pictures, is how bad the smog is. Of course, back then coal was quite common even for home heating. I remember my parents telling me how bad the air in Nashville would get in the winter during the thirties.


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  10. 10
    Neuroskeptic Says:

    Excellent post.


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  11. 11
    Engineering Edgar Says:

            DV82XL said:

    First its accuracy may be dubious, but second, these were time when huge numbers of men were riding the rails, looking for work. This was an era of almost no social support for the unemployed, so the story would have rung true given the tenor of the times.

    There is an episode of South Park where merciless terrorists are about to engage a suicide attack and when the boys ask them why they say they are being paid a huge amount of money and may die, but will be rich.

    Really though, there’s no salary high enough for a suicide mission and if everyone is falling off left and right then what’s the point? Might as well just jump under the wheels of the train you’re riding. Both get you killed, but at least one is less work.

    I guess you could say that most survive or something, but really there is no way I’d go for a job that has a very significant chance of death, because it defeats the purpose. What’s the point of getting a job to make money to live on if there’s a good chance it’ll kill you? I’d rather keep riding the rails and eat roots dandelions than work on a building that would kill me.

    Hence I think the dangers are likely overstated. Injury is more probable, but the idea that workers dropped like flies from either one seems totally unrealistic.


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  12. 12
    DV82XL Says:

            Engineering Edgar said:

    I guess you could say that most survive or something, but really there is no way I’d go for a job that has a very significant chance of death, because it defeats the purpose.

    What’s the point of getting a job to make money to live on if there’s a good chance it’ll kill you?

    I won’t argue the veracity of the story I attributed to Ebbets, however my son is a telcom tech (not a rigger) and works on towers, where he gets paid about twice as much as he would working inside for his level of seniority. Last year, he tells me eleven towermen ‘flaked off’ (their euphemism) and died in North America.

    Now he is young and very athletic, and has always been a bit of a thrill-seeker, so he has no issues with the danger. I only hope that he does as he promises, and moves inside when he is older. There are people that will do dangerous jobs


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  13. 13
    Dionigi Says:

    I remember working in the UK on a power station in the 70′s and seeing a worker walking backwards across a beam probably 14 inches wide so that he could sweep the dust from it. The beam had a 160 foot drop to the ground floor and during the walk he had to step over another beam crossing at right angles to it. I still see people doing stupid things even with all the education in health and safety that is given.
    According to this web
    http://americanhistory.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_golden_gate_bridges_halfway_to_hell_club
    in 1933 one man was expected to die for every million dollars spent on a construction project. The golden gate bridge used safety nets for worker protection and also safety helmets for protection from falling objects.


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  14. 14
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Dionigi said:

    I remember working in the UK on a power station in the 70′s and seeing a worker walking backwards across a beam probably 14 inches wide so that he could sweep the dust from it. The beam had a 160 foot drop to the ground floor and during the walk he had to step over another beam crossing at right angles to it. I still see people doing stupid things even with all the education in health and safety that is given.

    I can’t imagine that was a job requirement – not in the 1970′s – to walk across a beam and sweep it without any protection from a harness or anything like that. Although, I could easily see how it would be a requirement to clean the beam and the worker just decided to not bother with safety measures that were avaliable. That kind of thing does happen.

    I’d think though that by the 1970′s, a worker would have good grounds for refusing to do that on the grounds of basic safety.


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  15. 15
    zeek Says:

    I have a friend in the heavy construction industry even to this day and it isn’t all that much safer – more often than not you’re still not working with a harness etc – it would be too impeding to the actual work. Of course, heavy machinery and tools have replaced much of the manual labor used in the past, but there are still guys balancing on the beams. Couldn’t pay me enough to do that.


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  16. 16
    Tami Ebbets Hahn Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Ebbets also reported that during the Great Depression potential workers would wait to see if anyone fell so they could be the first in line to replace them.

    Ebbets never stated or implied any such thing.


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  17. 17
    Alex in Toronto Says:

    Thank you for demonstrating that the picture is not showing reckless workers having a casual lunch tempting death but an adept photographer using his visual skills to compose an interesting picture to drive the viewers curiosity and make the subject of the pictures appear larger than life.


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  18. 18
    terry Says:

    i m wondering f anyone knows where those men n the photo are from.


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  19. 19
    Loren Says:

    Not knowing the history of the photo, any chance the background in the photo is itself a photo with the men posed in front of it?


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  20. 20
    Will Says:

    It’s ‘below’ not bellow.


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  21. 21
    Robert Pellettiere Says:

    I have worked for the last thirty three years building and tearing down bridges in the Kansas city area. It`s only been in the last 20 years that safety has become a point of special emphasis. Prior to that we worked without fall protection (safety harnesses) and static lines (lines to hook on to with your lanyern). Lead Poisoning was a frequent issue while cutting girders for removal with a cutting torch. I have been treated twice for acute lead poisoning. We started wearing respirators (masks with replaceable filters in the mid 1980`s. We still have to walk the girders to install our safety lines in many cases.


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  22. 22
    Ground Floor Gus Says:

            terry said:

    i m wondering f anyone knows where those men n the photo are from.

    From Wikipedia:
    In recent years, the identities of most of the subjects have been provided by their descendents or relatives. Counting from the left, the first man is Matty O’Shaughnessy from County Galway, Ireland. The third man is Austin Lawton of King’s Cove, Newfoundland and the fifth man is Claude Stagg of Catalina, Newfoundland. The eighth man has been identified by a nephew as Francis Michael Rafferty; the ninth man is his lifelong best friend, Stretch Donahue. The tenth man is Thomas Norton (born Naughton) of County Galway, Ireland. The eleventh man has been identified as both Patrick “Sonny” Glynn of County Galway, Ireland, and Gusti Popovič, a Slovak from then Czechoslovakia.


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  23. 23
    Depleted Cranium » Blog Archive » Were Steel Workers Really This Reckless? | chimac.net – Stuff worth knowing about Says:

    [...] Depleted Cranium » Blog Archive » Were Steel Workers Really This Reckless?. Turns out apparently not. Things are often not what they seem. [...]


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  24. 24
    Knosys Networks Says:

    It’s still real to meee!!!


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  25. 25
    Shannon Says:

    Some of you who say you’d never do dangerous work like this might be surprised what a man will do when times are desperate. I spent about a year and a half flying little single-engine airplanes – Cessna 172s and such – across the Atlantic to customers in Europe and twice to India. I’m not an adrenaline junkie by any stretch, but at the time, I was in my 30s and living in my parents basement. I needed to try to pay my bills and it was the best opportunity I had at the time. Sometimes, even the more cautious of us will risk injury or death to get by in this life. Even if that photo was a bit staged, I’d bet money those men were taking risks on a daily basis most of us would think absurd because they had families to support.


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  26. 26
    Kay Says:

    While in Quito, Ecuador, I saw workers without harnesses working on the 4th-8th stories of new buildings, out in the open, where a misstep would lead to serious injury or death. It wasn’t as crazy as this photo, but it still made me very nervous to see.


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  27. 27
    Ironworkers wife Says:

    First off…these men are called Iron Workers, NOT Steel Workers. Steel Workers make steel. Iron Workers set the Iron of bridges and buildings.
    Safety was NOT an issue until the past 10 yrs or so. My husband has been an Iron Worker for 30+ yrs and walked the narrowest of beams without crashing to his death. Once they said they had to wear harnesses and lanyards, he started to hate the job. For his protection? He claims the harness and lanyard are what’s going to kill him. Not the art of falling off a beam.
    I’ve been on a beam 3 floors up…I couldn’t do that job if you paid me $1million. I’ll leave that to him.


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  28. 28
    Gordon Says:

            Ironworkers wife said:

    First off…these men are called Iron Workers, NOT Steel Workers. Steel Workers make steel. Iron Workers set the Iron of bridges and buildings.
    Safety was NOT an issue until the past 10 yrs or so. My husband has been an Iron Worker for 30+ yrs and walked the narrowest of beams without crashing to his death. Once they said they had to wear harnesses and lanyards, he started to hate the job. For his protection? He claims the harness and lanyard are what’s going to kill him. Not the art of falling off a beam.
    I’ve been on a beam 3 floors up…I couldn’t do that job if you paid me $1million. I’ll leave that to him.

    Not an Iron Worker or Steel Worker or whatever you choose to call it, but I am in an industry with similar dangers. I’ve been involved in communications work for close to 40 years. This involves climbing towers for antenna installations, working on roofs and also installing equipment on high structures (water towers, smoke stacks and anything else that provides a good high platform for communication equipment)

    To say safety was NOT an issue in that kind of industry is false. It has ALWAYS been an issue, because if you’re not an idiot, you realize that being up more than one hundred feet out on a structure is a dangerous thing and can kill you.

    Workers know well that they will be dead if they pay no attention to safety. Safety measures have always been there.

    What HAS changed is that they are more formal, more well tested, more enforced and more consistent. In the past harnesses, hardhats and rigging were there, but they were not consistent and when they were used was largely at the discretion of the employee or the company. Now there are universal standards. No more jurry-rigged harnesses or different standards from company to company. Also, of course, these days, it’s highly illegal for companies to encourage workers to use minimal safety equipment in the name of getting the job done faster (yes, once was that way)

    BTW, this did not change ten years ago. Ten years ago was 2002. This started to change in the early 1970s.

    And less someone say this is a different industry, many of the industrial safety laws that apply are not specific to communications work, but are generic to any kind of high elevation construction.


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  29. 29
    Alan Mitchell Says:

    The preceding comments miss the point (on purpose?). The fact is that American males have changed and for the worse. White American males today would not and could not do this work. Look at photo #1 – not a pound of fat on the lot of them! The “WalMart” male today is at least 75 pounds, maybe 300 pounds overweight. He is flabby-muscled, has no coordination and has no sense of proper diet or proper posture. Worse, this fine gentleman let’s his 10-y.o. boy (and girl) adopt the same slovenly attitude. All the talk about laws and rules and legalities is just that – until we take responsibility for ourselves and our children.


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  30. 30
    Phil Fray Says:

    As a member of Ironworkers Local #10, I remember viewing this photo at our Apprenticeship School questioning our own self-merit, none of us had worked at that height yet in our careers. And now 25 years later, having successully driven home from a day of 600 + ft. A sense of pride enstills inside of you.To most of you it is unimagable, and to try to describe it is impossible. With today’s safety practices in effect you would ( get your walkin’ papers) if witnessed not being (tied-off) on a job today.However I can’t describe the sense of Pride of (Walking Iron) of days past embedded in my bones. Even today I still stop to view this photo, and try to visualize what it must of been like in the old days.


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  31. 31
    Lynn Guzzetta Says:

    Thank you Phil! I see so much history in the photograph…not the least of which is the spirit of these workers. These guys were not daredeils. They were hard working people who took pride in their work. These guys didn’t go to work to not come home…I see the history of safety in these photos. We know today there are harnasses and “tie offs.” and this is all for the benefit of the employee. I see the history of the American dream…these guys came here to find work and were willing to get the job done – just to make their lives here.


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  32. 32
    Bent Ivesren Says:

    The Swedish newspaper EXPRESSEN writes 6 Jan 2013 that the 6 th. person from the left is John Johansson from Halland, Sweden.
    link: http://www.expressen.se/kvp/hallanningar-byggde-rockefeller-center/


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  33. 33
    Nayana Menon Says:

    More than the deliberations on the safety, environmental and architectural issues, a very poignant fact seems to glare back from this photo. The contentment with what life has to offer. “Lunch Atop A Skyscraper” potrays the pathos of the pristine contentment in what life has to offer. Today though we have progressed by leaps and bounds, can our folks attempt this attitude. We are too engulfed in the vagaries of time and the quest for materialistic gains, to sit and have”Lunch Atop A Skyscraper” in the real carefree sense.


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  34. 34
    Roger Forster Says:

    As an Ironworker, I would like all of you to know that safety is one’s own responsibility.
    When I began my career, safety was in place but not nearly as prominent as the current day.
    This is driven by insurance companies and the rates and breaks given for stringent safety programs.
    As for the mentality of the photographed men, I can vouch for their pride and attention to their own safety.
    These men were not reckless, but rather, brave. The mindset required is incredibly difficult to explain.
    There is a certain euphoria present when perched high above the earth among nature like nowhere else.
    I do feel there is an extra element of danger associated with safety that is less present than when this photo was taken and this is due to a false sense of security, complacency, and the reality of overconfidence provided by some of the current safety provisions.
    Please don’t think these men fools, they were aware of all of the dangers associated with their work.

    Ironworkers Building America….One step from God


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  35. 35
    cars Says:

    Buying a used car can be tricky, no matter how much you already know about cars.
    There are lots of different things to consider so that you don’t end up buying a piece of junk that breaks down right away. Use some great tips of the trade in the following article to help you make your next car choice.


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  36. 36
    Gene Lawhorn Says:

    The question this of this piece is absurd to begin with, and show the author to deeply ignorant of the history of the working class of America. Steel workers were NOT reckless, but highly skilled, and fearless. I have known many Ironworkers as a carpenter and can say they were all men who took great pride in their work and their culture. Oh and their work culture is unique as they are as individuals. It takes a special breed to do this work even today with the stronger safety regulations. I recall a in 1997 when 3 Ironworkers were killed at the Portland, Or Parking garage, I was driving home from work and had just visited the parking garage, I had to pullover as the tears fell from my eyes. Then it was not know who was killed, Iron workers, carpenter, laborer… I just felt like some members of my family were killed.
    So reckless, hell no. Professional, proud… maybe a touch of arrogance. But not reckless. If a man/woman dies, or is injured doing his/her job it can be a lot of contributing factors. Sometimes it unsafe conditions, sometimes it is pushing oneself beyond what one should to complete the job. Sometimes it is weather, or failure of equipment, or just murphy’s law. I read the post by Roger Foster, and I think what he says has a lot more validity than anything I can say.
    But I want to close to say “Depleted Cranium” with it’s article makes me angry by belittling the work and craftsmanship of the Iron Workers by asking the stupid question, “Were Steel Workers Really This Reckless?” They had a tough job to do, and they did this job with simplicity that would make the writers **** their pants just standing in their shoes for 1 minute. It’s like saying this was staged and there was no real danger in these photos. You at “Depleted Cranium” should give thanks to people like these every time you go up an elevator, another tough dangerous job, or down a flight of stairs that are in code. Or walk across a floor so high you can see the top of almost every other building. We build this Nation, appreciate it.


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  37. 37
    DV82XL Says:

            Gene Lawhorn said:

    The question this of this piece is absurd to begin with, and show the author to deeply ignorant of the history of the working class of America. Steel workers were NOT reckless, but highly skilled, and fearless…

    Had you actually taken the time to read the item you would understand that the writer was not claiming high steel workers were acting unprofessionally, only that the photographer(s) that took the pictures set up the shots such that they appear to be. This article is, in fact, a criticism of poor reportage wherein sensationalism was the apparent object, rather than an attempt to communicate fact.


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  38. 38
    James Grippa Says:

    Here’s an interestin add on that purports to have the names of the guys on the beam.

    Link: http://listverse.com/2011/06/21/10-interesting-facts-behind-popular-posters/


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