The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

Categories: History | North America

In 1884, the construction of the first skyscraper was started in Chicago. It had as many as 10 floors! However, at the beginning of the next century, a 10-storey building was no surprise to anyone, and the main construction of skyscrapers in America moved to New York.

Many have seen a photo of builders sitting on a beam somewhere high in the sky above the city, it is often found on posters and covers. And of course, with a sinking heart they asked the question: how? How did they get there and how can they not tremble with fear, but calmly eat their lunch? So, this post is about how skyscrapers were built in New York.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper ("Lunch on top of a Skyscraper") is a photograph from the Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam series - 1932 by photographer Charles C. Ebbets.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

Such a miracle as a skyscraper would not have been possible without the invention of a steel frame. Assembling the steel frame of a building is the most dangerous and difficult part of construction. It is the quality and speed of the frame assembly that determines whether the project will be implemented on time and within budget. That's why riveters are the most important profession in the construction of a skyscraper.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

Riveters are a caste with its own laws: the salary of a riveter for a working day is $ 15, more than any skilled worker on a construction site; they do not go to work in rain, wind or fog, they are not listed in the contractor's staff. They are not alone, they work in teams of four people, and if one of the team does not go to work, no one comes out. Why, in the midst of the Great Depression, is everyone looking through their fingers at this, from the investor to the foreman?

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

There is a coal stove on a platform made of planks or just on steel beams. The rivets in the furnace are 10-centimeter long and 3‑centimeter in diameter steel cylinders. The "cook" "cooks" rivets — drives air into the oven with small bellows to warm them up to the desired temperature. The rivet has warmed up (not too much - it will turn in the hole and you will have to drill it — and not too weakly — it will not split), now you need to transfer the rivet to where it will fasten the beams. Which beam will be attached when is known only in advance, and it is impossible to move the hot oven during the working day. Therefore, often the attachment point is located thirty meters from the "cook", sometimes higher, sometimes lower by two or three floors.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The only way to transfer a rivet is to throw it.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The "cook" turns to the "goalkeeper" and silently, after making sure that the "goalkeeper" is ready to receive, throws a red-hot 600-gram blank in his direction with tongs. Sometimes the beams are already welded on the trajectory, you need to throw them once, accurately and strongly.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The "goalkeeper" stands on a narrow platform or just on a bare beam near the place of riveting. His goal is to catch a flying piece of iron with an ordinary tin can. He does not move from his place, so as not to fall. But he must catch the rivet, otherwise it will collapse on the city like a small bomb.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

"Shooter" and "stop" are waiting. The "goalkeeper", having caught the rivet, drives it into the hole. The "stop" on the outside of the building, hanging over the abyss, holds the rivet cap with a steel rod and its own weight. The "shooter" with a 15-kilogram pneumatic hammer splits it from the other side within a minute.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The best team performs this trick over 500 times a day, the average - about 250.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The danger of this work can be illustrated by the following fact: masons at a construction site are insured at a rate of 6% of salary, carpenters - 4%. The riveter's rate is 25-30%.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

One person was killed on the Chrysler building. Four people died on Wall Street 40. There are five on Empire State.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The frame of the skyscraper consists of hundreds of steel profiles several meters long and weighing several tons, the so-called beams. There is nowhere to store them during the construction of a skyscraper — no one will allow organizing a warehouse in the city center, in conditions of dense development, on municipal land. 

Moreover, all the structural elements are different, each can be used in a single place, so an attempt to organize even a temporary warehouse, for example on one of the last floors built, can lead to great confusion and disruption of construction deadlines.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

That is why when I wrote that the work of riveters is the most important and the most difficult, I did not mention that it is also the most dangerous and difficult. The work is harder and more dangerous than theirs - the work of a crane crew.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The order for the beams was agreed with the metallurgists a few weeks ago, trucks bring them to the construction site minute by minute. Regardless of the weather, they must be unloaded immediately.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The derrick crane is a boom on a hinge, located on the last floor built, the installers are on the floor above. The winch operator can be on any floor of an already built building, because no one is going to stop lifting and distract other cranes to lift the heavy mechanism several floors higher for the convenience of installers. Therefore, when lifting a multi-ton channel, the operator does not see the beam itself, nor the car that brought it, nor his comrades.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The only reference point for management is the sound of the bell, given by the apprentice at the signal of the foreman, who is with the entire brigade dozens of floors above. Blow - turns on the winch motor, blow - turns off. Several teams of riveters work nearby with their hammers (have you ever heard the noise of a jackhammer?), other crane operators raise other channels at the commands of their bells. It is impossible to make a mistake and not hear the blow — the channel will either ram the boom of the crane, or throw installers preparing to fix it from the installed vertical beam.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The foreman, controlling the derrick through two operators, one of whom he does not see, achieves the coincidence of the riveting holes on the installed vertical beams with the holes on the raised channel with an accuracy of 2-3 millimeters. Only after that, a pair of installers can fix the swinging, often wet channel with huge bolts and nuts.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

In New York on 6th Avenue there is a monument to these guys, installed in 2001. The model was the most famous photo, she is the first here in the preview. So, they made the monument at first exactly as in the photo, i.e. 11 dudes are sitting on a beam. And then the one on the far right was removed at the root. And only because he has a bottle of whiskey in his hands! I understand if we had done it in Gorbachev's time, but they had it in 2001! Apparently, they didn't want to destroy the legend about the brave guys. Now it's ten quite decent guys sitting on a steel beam. Normal. But somehow it's a shame.

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

Monuments to brave builders

The most dizzying photos from the construction of New York skyscrapers

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