Thursday, April 18, 2013

Portraits of Charles C. Ebbets Atop A Skyscraper in NYC

Portrait of Charles C. Ebbets atop a skyscraper in NYC

Charles C. Ebbets with his trusty camera hanging out over NYC

Charles C. Ebbets looking stylish on the job high above NYC

Charles C. Ebbets was born in August 18, 1905 in Gadsden, Alabama. He bought his first camera at the age of eight by charging it to his mother's account at a local drugstore.

Ebbets started his career during the 1920s in St. Petersburg, Florida, as a still photographer. He eventually became involved in early motion picture work, both in front of and behind the camera. In 1924, he had a brief stint as an actor, playing the role of an adventuresome African hunter known as "Wally Renny" in several motion pictures. In addition to his photographic endeavors, throughout the 20s he had many adventurous jobs including being a pilot, a wing-walker, an auto racer, a wrestler, and a hunter. He was also prizefighter Jack Dempsey's official staff photographer, a staff photographer for the Miami Daily News and a freelance photographer

Ebbets' two most famous photos were taken during the construction of the Rockefeller Center in New York in 1932. Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper depicts eleven men sitting on a girder eating lunch, their feet dangling from the beams hundreds of feet above the New York streets below was snapped on September 29, 1932, and appeared in the New York Herald Tribune shortly after. The photo was taken on the 69th floor in the last several months of construction. Men Asleep on a Girder is a picture of the same workers lying down on the beam taking a nap. Not until 2003 was Charles C. Ebbets officially recognized by the Bettman Archive as the photographer of Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper and dozens of other famous Bettman Archive photos which had previously been mis-marked or were marked as "photographer unknown."

Lunch atop a Skyscraper, 1932 © Bettmann/Corbis

Men Asleep on a Girder, 1932 © Bettmann/Corbis

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