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Chicago iron workers recreate the iconic ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ photograph

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The image presents a 21st century take on an American classic

Iron Workers Local #1 Chicago
An image posted to Reddit comparing the modern recreation against the iconic 1932 original.

Eleven members of the Chicago #1 local iron workers took it upon themselves to recreate an iconic image from 20th century pop culture by posing for lunch on a girder dangling hundreds of feet above the Loop. As a modern touch, the recreation swaps out the original photo’s flask of whiskey for a soft drink and has the two men on the far left sharing an image on a smartphone rather than a cigarette.

The image recently reappeared on Reddit’s “Old School Cool” sub accompanied by the original Lunch atop a Skyscraper photo where it quickly climbed the ranks. While the black and white original dates back to the 1932 construction of Manhattan’s 850-foot 30 Rockefeller Plaza (now officially known as the Comcast Building), the re-staging was taken from atop Chicago’s new CNA Center.

Designed by John Ronan Architects, the 35-story Loop office tower will open at 151 N. Franklin next summer. With the skyscraper now fully enclosed in glass, it is clear the image was taken at an earlier date. The presence of the now-removed yellow crane of River North’s upcoming 3Eleven apartment tower in the distance confirms the photo’s age.

In 2011, a group of steel workers in the United Kingdom faced potential disciplinary action for creating the same scene high above London. In contrast, the Chicago image appears to be sanctioned as it is proudly posted on the Chicago #1 local iron workers’ official webpage.