Tag Archives: empire state building

The Things We Do For Fun or Self Destruction

Today there is a trend that produces extreme selfies. These are where someone hangs off the edge of a building or natural feature in order to get ‘likes’ on social media. Another use of these crazy stunts is to increase the number of subscribers for a YouTube channel. A terrible indictment of egotism in the modern age?  I’d say not. The things we do for fun or self destruction have not really changed.

The Daily Mail has a good article that documents the publicity stunts (or just plain larking) that went on during the building boom in the US almost 100 years ago. Who has not seen this image?

iconic line of men in 1932 eating lunch.
Iconic picture of workmen 840 feet above the ground. Picture Bettman Archive

That was in 1932 and the men were obviously not required to have their sandwiches there, it was a stunt. Here is more spontaneous shot and one that surely takes away the criticism that the selfie crowd are purely an invention of the modern generation.

worker holds onto a girder with one hand and waves with the other while at dizzy heights.
Taken from the Daily Mail article this guy was working on the Empire State building in 1931.

Five men died during the construction of the Empire State building and looking at the above I can’t image how. They were obviously so safety conscious.

Have a look at the article, I have referenced it below.

Now to the modern age and here is Russian climber, Angela Nikolau.

girl in bikini in a shot where she lies on a ledge many 100s feet of the ground sort of sunbathing.
Angela Nikolau showing her insane disregard for height, despite having a troublesome knee by the look of it.

Glorifying Stupidity?

No, not I. Actually I’m pointing out that back then, in the days of booming New York, your main safety equipment for working at height was a strong grip. If you were a bit of a wimp you would tie a rope to your ankle. Also, back in the day there was little appreciation of the public when it came to safety in construction.

Most of the time people had a bit more about them than now. In addition, there was so little chance of compensation that the best thing to do was to watch yourself if someone was working above. Remember the superstition about walking under a ladder? It wasn’t really a superstition it was a method of stopping people from having something hit them or them knocking the ladder out of place.

What is Our Excuse Today?

There are harnesses and enclosed working at height. When it comes to thrill seeking, there is no need to do it other than for self promotion. To organise a safe stunt to the general wonder of all is to entertain safely. These people don’t, they just do it without regard for anyone else.

If you fell from a height of 1500ft ( 400m) you would reach terminal velocity in about 12 seconds. That is a speed of  120 MPH but there are other factors that can change it.  At the end of that fall is some poor person walking down the street. Hardly fair huh? Here is a picture of a tormented young woman who jumped from the Empire State building and hit a passing car.

 

Crumpled roof of a car with a young woman in the middle. She does not appear injured. In fact she had just died.
The body of 23-year-old Evelyn McHale rests atop a crumpled limousine minutes after she jumped to her death from the Empire State Building, May 1, 1947. Fair use photo by Robert Wiles

I doubt it would make any difference to thrill seekers or their viewers but that was not a modern vehicle. Those limousines were of a heavy construction. The lady in the picture was a tortured soul. I am addressing the issue of careless workers and climbing egotists. Imagine what that sort of fall would do to a teenager walking with her pals when some inconsiderate person slipped?

Source article: Click here.

 

Best regards,

Chris Hodge