Lunch atop a Skyscraper

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Lunch atop a Skyscraper, 1932

Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam) is a famous photograph taken atop the steelwork of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, during the construction of the Rockefeller Center, in Manhattan, New York City, United States.


The photograph depicts eleven men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling 840 feet (260 meters)[1] above the New York City streets. The photograph was taken on September 20, 1932, on the 69th floor of the RCA Building during the last months of construction. According to archivists, the photograph was in fact prearranged.[1] Although the photograph shows real ironworkers, it is believed that the moment was staged by Rockefeller Center to promote its new skyscraper.[1] Other photographs taken on the same day show some of the workers throwing a football and pretending to sleep on the girder.[2] The photo appeared in the Sunday photo supplement of the New York Herald Tribune on October 2.


The glass negative is now owned by Branded Entertainment Network, who acquired it from the Acme Newspictures archive in 1995. The negative was broken into five pieces in 1996.[3]


Formerly attributed to "unknown", it has been credited to Charles C. Ebbets since 2003[4][5] and erroneously to Lewis Hine. The Corbis corporation officially returned its status to unknown although sources continue to credit Ebbets.[6][7][8][9]

Men in the image[edit]

There have been numerous claims regarding the identities of the men in the image. The movie Men at Lunch[10] traces some of the men to possible Irish origin, but the director plans to conduct further interviews to follow up other claims from Swedish relatives.[11] From the left, number three is Joseph Eckner, number four is Michael Breheny, number five is Albin Svensson and number six with the cigarette is John (Jack) Patrick Madden. The first man from the right is Slovak worker Gustáv (Gusti) Popovič from the village of Vyšný Slavkov in the Levoča District. Gusti was originally a lumberjack and carpenter. In 1932 he sent his wife Mariška a postcard with this photograph on which he wrote, "Don´t you worry, my dear Mariska, as you can see I'm still with bottle. Your Gusti."[12][13] He came back to Vyšný Slavkov at the beginning of World War II and became a farmer. By the end of World War II, Gusti was killed by a grenade in his village. His and Mariška's joint grave is in the Vyšný Slavkov cemetery.[14] The third from the right is Joe Curtis.[15] The man sitting fourth from the right is allegedly Irishman Francis Michael Rafferty with his lifelong best friend and fellow Irishman, Stretch Donahue, sitting to his right.[1]


External links[edit]