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New Rockefeller Center attraction lets visitors recreate iconic 1932 photo of men on the beam

Organizers at Rockefeller Center are taking photo ops to new heights, unveiling the center's new “Top of the Rock: The Beam” attraction that allows visitors to recreate an iconic image taken 91 years ago of construction workers suspended in the air on their lunch break.

The attraction sits on top of the center’s Rock Observation Deck. Riders can sit on top of the construction beam, which will then be lifted 12 feet above the deck and turned 180 degrees, allowing them to see Central Park. Visitors get the chance to strike a pose before being lowered back onto the deck.

Rides start Dec. 1 and tickets to take photos on the beam are sold as part of a VIP pass, starting at $160, according to the Rockefeller Center website.

Visitors ride the “Top of the Rock: The Beam” attraction on Nov. 30, 2023. The attraction allows guests to recreate the 1932 photo "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” which was originally published in The New York Herald-Tribune on October 2, 1932.
Visitors ride the “Top of the Rock: The Beam” attraction on Nov. 30, 2023. The attraction allows guests to recreate the 1932 photo "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” which was originally published in The New York Herald-Tribune on October 2, 1932.

Beam attraction inspired by iconic photo taken 91 years ago

The attraction was inspired by a photo taken by an unknown photographer in 1932. In the photo, 11 construction workers have lunch as they sit on a steel beam suspended 850 feet in the air.

The photo was first published in The New York Herald-Tribune on October 2, 1932 and is often called “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” “Lunch on a Beam” and “Men on a Beam,” according to The Center Magazine.

Charles Clyde Ebbets, born in 1905 in Gadsden, took this iconic photograph, "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper," in 1932 in New York
Charles Clyde Ebbets, born in 1905 in Gadsden, took this iconic photograph, "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper," in 1932 in New York

People have spent years trying to figure out the identities of the men in the photo.

Two of the men have been identified: Joe Curtis, sitting third from the right, and Joseph Eckner, third from the left. Little else is known about the men other than their names though. The search to verify this information was included in the 2012 documentary “Men at Lunch,” directed by Seán Ó Cualáin.

To identify the two men, the Rockefeller's Center’s archivist, Christine Roussel, looked at dozens of the archived photographs taken during the construction of the center.

Possible identification for two construction workers in iconic photo

The documentary filmmakers have also set their sights on two construction workers in the photo thanks to a chance encounter at an Irish pub in 2010. They saw a copy of the photo on the wall in Galway, Ireland and next to it was a note from a man named Pat Glynn, who said his father and uncle-in-law were on the beam in the iconic photograph.

After getting his phone number from the pub’s owner, they met with Glynn and his cousin to compare family photos to the historical image.

The man and his cousin are certain the worker at the right end holding a bottle is Sonny Glynn, while the man on the other side is Matty O'Shaughnessy.

While it’s difficult to confirm due to the lack of work records from that era, The Center Magazine reports that employees who worked at the construction site included Irish-Americans, Irish immigrants, Italians, Scandinavians, Eastern Europeans, Germans and Mohawk ironworkers from Canada.

Cualáin, the “Men at Lunch” documentary director, thinks they’re correct.

"Family records place both men in New York at the time of the photo,” he told the magazine.

Grab your tickets to recreate the “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” image at rockefellercenter.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New at Rockefeller: Recreate 1932 'Lunch Atop a Skyscraper' beam photo