The Smithsonian channel is airing a series of shows titled America in Color, in which they enhance lost or forgotten video footage of the 1900s, beginning with the 1920s. Part of the first episode in the series shows the men that worked on skyscrapers in New York City and it’s been edited to show color, as opposed to black and white, for the first time.
The “Roughnecks,” as the skyscraper ironworkers were known, are shown building NYC’s Chrysler Tower and the Empire State Building with little more than some tools a soft hat; no harnesses, safety lines, or hard hats. They weren’t even granted bathroom breaks. After all, OSHA wasn’t even created for another 5 decades, in the 1970s.
Before you watch the footage and revel in the fact that this was “back when there were real men,” note that research shows that 2 out of 5, or 40%, “roughnecks” were either killed or disabled on these jobs. These men were certainly brave enough to take on this dangerous work, but there’s a good reason why laws are set in place to protect America’s workers today.
According to The Skyscraper Center, there were 6 buildings at least 200 meters tall (656 feet) that were completed in either 1930 or 1931 in New York City alone. The Empire State Building was the tallest of the bunch, topping out at 1,250 feet, followed by the Chrysler building (1,046 feet), the Trump Building (9247 feet), Twenty Exchange (741 feet), 500 Fifth Avenue (697 feet), and One Grand Central Place (673 feet).
If you’d like to check out the full episode on the 1920s, the next airings on the Smithsonian channel are at 3pm on Monday, February 4, 2am on Sunday February 17, and 3pm on Sunday, February 24 or you can stream it for free on their website.
Enjoy the construction specific clip below:
Falls on the jobsite is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction. Keeping up with housekeeping on your site is a great way to reduce risks of falls, but other protections, like rebar caps should be installed when rebar is exposed. A young construction worker recently found out the hard way what happens when rebar is left exposed.
Completed in 1976, the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada held the record for the tallest freestanding structure in the world from 1975-2007, until it was supplanted by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. At its highest point, the CN Tower, which is mainly used as a communications and observation tower, reaches 1,815.4 feet (533.33m). Last year, the tower underwent a $16 million renovation and Priestly Demolition shared a fascinating, in-depth video for how they took care of the demolition of the interior space and walls.
Cranes collapsing on-site are serious business, especially since many of them resulted in the loss of life. A recent crane collapse on a construction site in Alpharetta, GA was caught on camera after it caught fire, but luckily no one was injured.
There are a lot of different specialty construction contracting sectors within the industry and cruise ships are definitely one of them. There are plenty of unique challenges when dealing with a moving ship versus a static building. A recent accident highlighted the challenges when a crane collapsed on a cruise ship under renovations, injuring 8 people.
Almost 7 years ago, construction began on the west side of Manhattan’s $20 billion mixed-use development. On March 15, 2019, Hudson Yards, as the development is known, has officially opened.
Demolitions by implosion can be fun to watch when they go right – or wrong – but nearby residents can be greatly affected by the high powered blasts and huge clouds of debris that follow. A few years ago, a botched demolition in England left dozens of nearby residents unable to return to their homes for several days. Last week, an obsolete Steel Basic Oxygen Plant in Weirton, West Virginia is leaving residents in a similar situation.
Traditional safety training for construction workers includes OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour courses, toolbox talks, and safety inspections. Those training techniques are all important and necessary, but construction workers are an extremely hands-on group of individuals and putting them in real life situations can be much more beneficial to them instead of classroom training.
Over the years, Liebherr, the German Crane Manufacturer, has given us some absolutely amazing videos. For example, they put on a show for their best customers one year and lifted one crane with another crane, which was lifted by a third crane, which was then lifted by a fourth crane. Another video highlighted the 58 cranes that were on site at the same time at the world’s largest airport build in Istanbul. Well, the company is back at it again, this time on top of Europe’s new tallest building.
When we think about historic buildings of ancient times that are still standing, we can stand in awe of the level of detail that was incorporated into designs without modern tools and technology. For a few decades, it seemed like we would never see that type of character in buildings again, but sports stadiums are becoming new modern wonders, pushing the limits of not only what’s capable from a construction standpoint, but also the budgets.