• Sweden edition
 
'They're the unknowns': skyscraper pic expert

'They're the unknowns': skyscraper pic expert

Published: 08 Jan 2013 14:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Jan 2013 14:30 GMT+01:00

A documentary film maker on a mission to identify the workers in the iconic Lunch Atop a Skyscraper image says a Swedish family's claim to recognizing two of the men perched on a beam could be plausible.

Documentary film maker Seán Ó Cualáín, who is working on a follow-up after identifying up to five of the 11 men in "Men At Lunch," told The Local that the workers in question are "the two unknowns".

"Both of them have a question mark on them, most others have a claim," he said.

Ó Cualáín said there are five times more claims on positive identifications than there are men on the beam, but that the mystery is part of the image's appeal.

"There's a discrepancy but that doesn't lessen the power of the image, in some ways it makes it stronger because of it."

Historians have so far struggled to identify the men because there either was no official pay roll when the skyscraper at Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan was built in the 1930s, or it has been lost.

It was a perilous time for many workers, Ó Cualáín noted.

"There was one dead worker for every ten storeys. This was during the Depression, so there was a queue of people below waiting. If anyone was injured, and they often were, they'd be quickly replaced."

The image, with the eleven men without harnesses high above the rooftops of Manhattan, illustrates the risks workers took at the time. Ó Cualáín thinks the extremely tough times contribute to the picture's allure.

"It’s a source of pride for everyone who claims their father is on that beam. It’s a story of eleven working men trying to put food on the table for their families during the Depression."

Although he and his team have so far identified only four or five of the men, he said many of the families who claim a link to the image do not care if they find proof or not.

"For most people who have a claim, it’s a family story that they heard when they were kids. It's a feel good picture, that’s why they’re happy to be associated with it."

Ó Cualáín and his team also got hold of a second image, which is taken slightly after the one that has made its way across the world on posters and other paraphernalia.

They know it is taken a few seconds later because the man on the far left who is lighting his cigarette in the original picture is puffing on it in the second picture.

This second image could be of interest to the Swedish family because it shows more of the face of the man seated fifth from the left. The Swedes think it is local man Albin Svensson.

Regional newspaper Hallands-Posten, which broke the story on Monday, noted that Svensson was slightly cross-eyed, although a family picture shows the condition was not severe, meaning it could be hard to detect even in the second picture.

The poster hangs in Ó Cualáín's production office.

"You can see slightly more of his face,” Ó Cualáín told The Local. "But you can't tell really if he's cross-eyed."

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

17:54 January 11, 2013 by PNAPortugal
I think that you might learn more about this. Most skyscrapers in New York were built by American Brige Company, in Pittsburgh, PA. The HQ of the company has moved to Coraopolis, a Pittsburgh suburb, where they have also a museum and all the records on all the jobs ever done.

American Bridge was founded to build the railroad bridges in 1900, but has built other buildings, and was later purchased by US Steel, survived the melt down of the conglomerate of companies, and has very good records!

It is just a suggestion, but it is worth to try.

This photo was also featured some years ago in Vanity Fair magazine... they may have some clues also.

Here is the link to the contacts of American Bridge Company page in Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:American_bridge_logo.png

Kind regards,

Paula
Today's headlines
Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat
Rickard Rundgren Björk of the coastguard services speaks to the media after the rescue operation on April 19th 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin /TT

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat

Three Saturday morning sailors had a lucky escape after their small boat collided and sank after it crashed into a cruise ship whilst sailing in the Stockholm archipelago. READ () »

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party have stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Advertisement:
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

751
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com