I love the work of Lewis Hine. He was a photographer in the early 1900's to 1930's. His work depicts immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, housing and labor conditions in the U.S., and the relationship between workers and machinery. His eye opening photographs helped convince authorities to pass better housing codes, laws that prohibited child labor, and safety laws for all workers. In 1930 and 1931, Hine was commissioned to photograph the construction of the Empire State Building. That series is my favorite of his work.
Here are some of his photographs of the construction of the Empire State Building:
View of the building rising to about sixteen stories, Lewis Hine
Connecting the beams, Lewis Hine
Icarus, high up on Empire State, Lewis Hine (this is my absolute favorite)
Worker torch-cutting steel, Lewis Hine
Worker signaling below, view looking north east, Lewis Hine
Plumbing up a column, Lewis Hine
Workers guiding hoisting cable, Lewis Hine
A worker hanging on to two steel beams, Lewis Hine
A worker at the edge of a platform, looking north, Lewis Hine
Can you even imagine what it must have been like to work there in the 30's? No hard hats, no harnesses, no welding masks... And you're building the world's tallest building! And I'm pretty sure they didn't have Afflack or Worker's Comp to support their families if they were injured or killed on the job! I'm so glad that Hine's work led to stricter labor laws.