A Legendary Photo Gives Up Its Secrets

Part detective story, part homage to the American immigrant experience and, ultimately, a tribute to the simple dignity of hard work, the documentary film Men at Lunch examines the mysteries behind one of the most recognizable images of the 20th century: eleven men casually perched atop a steel beam hundreds of feet above Manhattan. For eight decades, from the time the photo was made in 1932 until brothers Sean and Eamonn O Cualain came across a print of the photo in a pub in the west of Ireland in 2009, the picture was embraced as a stirring illustration of the creation of modern New York. Here, the picture seems to say, are the immigrants who built, by hand, the greatest skyline in the world. Here are the unsung heroes of Manhattan.

A Legendary Photo Gives Up Its Secrets