Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 10 Greatest Historic NYC Photographs — #4

Icarus by Lewis Hine

04 Hine at ESB

In a vertical city filled with skyscrapers, the construction worker is easily depicted as a heroic figure, and never more so than in Lewis Hine’s glorious 1930 photo documentation of the progress of the Empire State Building. Many of the laborers who balanced on girders and climbed the cables were Mohawks who had learned such skills through the generations. Hine dubbed the Mohawk hero in this photo, Icarus, leading one to wonder if this was a comment on the number of his comrades who had died during the construction. Icarus, after all, was the young Greek who plummeted to his death after his wax wings melted when he flew too close to the sun.

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