Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lunch Atop a Sky Scraper

Are there, or aren't there, any berets on this famous picture
'Lunch on a Skycraper' 3D Poster
The photograph depicts 11 men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling hundreds of feet above the New York City streets. Most, if not all of them, wear newsboy caps (or Gatsby Caps, Baker Boy or 8 Panel caps), but the guy on the right may be wearing a Basque beret... Not likely, call it wishful thinking*, but there were a few Basques working in NY's construction industry in the 1930's.
Ebbets took the photo on September 29, 1932, and it appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in its Sunday photo supplement on October 2. Taken on the 69th floor of the GE Building during the last several months of construction, the photograph Men Asleep on a Girder shows the same workers napping on the beam.

The man sitting fourth from the left is Native American John Charles Cook of the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, also known as the Akwesasne.
The copyright owner of the photograph, the Bettman Archive, did not recognize Charles C. Ebbets as the photographer until October 2003 (reportedly after months of investigation by a private investigation firm). However, authorship of the photograph, popular as a poster, was listed as 'Unknown' on many prints.
From the photograph, sculptor Sergio Furnari, got the inspiration for his sculpture Lunchtime on a Skyscraper – A Tribute to America's Heroes, and the same question arises here: berets or no berets? I'll have to contact the artist and shall keep you updated on this one...
* Wishful thinking is interpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc., according to what one would like to be the case rather than according to the actual evidence. If it is done intentionally and without regard for the truth, it is called misinterpretation, falsification, dissembling, disingenuous, or perversion of the truth.

1 comment:

  1. Actually the fourth guy from the right is in fact not as stated. It is my great uncle Francis Michael Rafferty and the gentleman on his right is his lifelong best friend Stretch Donahue. The day the picture was taken he cam home and told his family that a photographer offered them box lunches if he could take some pictures of them while they ate. This can be confirmed and we can verify via photos of our Uncle that it is in fact him. We are in the process of having wikipedia and other websites correct this misrepresentation.