Photojouralism: Lunch atop a Skyscraper


This photo was taken from

The old cliche goes: a picture is worth a thousand words.

And as cheesy and as corny as it sounds, it couldn’t be more true.

Charles C. Ebbets took the famous picture of 11 men sitting on a steam beam high above the New York skyline on September 29, 1932 that later appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on October 2, in the photo supplement.  And although the photograph did not have a story to go alongside it, the message it sent is worth more than any words could have written.

The 11 men sitting on top of the beam appear to be on their lunch break without and harnesses or safety gear to keep them from falling off of the structure.  Ebbets’ photo accurately portrays the time period that this was taken because, following the Great Depression, people were willing to work regardless of how unsafe the working conditions were. 

Ebbets’ picture also falls within the restrictions of the “3×3” photo as well.  In the middle row we clearly see all the men sitting on the beam enjoying their lunch.  On the bottom and upper rows, you see the New York streets below, far off in the distance.  Because the main focus of the picture is in the middle row, we can see just how high up these people really are and how unsafe the conditions were.



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