Today’s photograph is simply awesome and unbelievable! It depicts the hands that built America. It shows construction workers enjoying lunch in a very carefree manner. You may ask “So what? After hard labor everyone enjoys lunch and feel at ease during the lunch hour.” Well, this is indeed true with everyone who works hard and enjoys eating a meal afterward. In this photograph, the only bit of deviation from commonality is that the workers are having lunch sitting on a crossbeam with their legs dangling hundreds of feet above the New York City!
This famous photograph was shot by Charles C. Ebbets on 29 September 1932. It was first published in the New York Herald Tribune a few weeks later on October 2, 1932. It was the time of the Great Depression and finding work was not an easy thing. A lot of Irish immigrants had descended in USA in search for a better life. As work was in short supply, workers were ready to take up any job, even if it meant to take lunch hundreds of feet above the ground.
The photograph shows eleven men having lunch near 69th floor of the RCA Building (renamed as the GE Building in 1986) at Rockefeller Center, New York. They are sitting on a girder high up in the air. The beauty of the photograph is that these men seem to be absolutely unconcerned about their position. They seem to be completely unaware that they were being photographed. The men are chatting, smoking, reading and eating with not even faintest of fear of falling down in the street way below. They perhaps had got so used to with the girder’s width and the notion of height that it became an ordinary thing for them.
Position of the girder high up in the air is not the best part of the photo. As I said, it is the ease in men’s demeanor that makes it an extraordinary photograph. But as though it was not enough to surprise us; some of these men took a nap on the same girder after finishing their lunch. The photographer clicked that moment as well. You too have a look!
Until 2003 Ebbets was not officially recognized as the photographer by the Bettman Archive, the copyright owners of these photographs. Now Corbis Images owns these photographs. Ken Johnston, chief historian for Corbis Images, doubts that this photograph was just one among many similar photos as several photographers were invited for the publicity of the Rockefeller building. “The image was a publicity effort by the Rockefeller Center. It seems pretty clear they were real workers, but the event was organised with a number of photographers.”, so was Ken reported in the Daily Mail.
This photograph is a popular poster image in the USA. Many famous photographs have found their way onto posters (or may be posters made these photos so popular!) The other day I wrote about the Tennis Girl photograph which is also a popular pin-up poster.
This photograph has also been the subject of a film! The film titled Men at Lunch was released in 2012. Here is the trailer of this movie:
My favorite of these 11 men enjoying lunch on a crossbeam are the three men on the left.
How did you like this photographs and the story behind it? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring even more iconic photographs to you.