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Lunchtime atop a skyscraper. Visual Rhetoric presented by Morgan Atwell. Charles C. Ebbets, Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper, September 29, 1932 ,, Photograph, September 12, 2011. A little bit of background….

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lunchtime atop a skyscraper

Lunchtime atop a skyscraper

Visual Rhetoric presented by Morgan Atwell


Charles C. Ebbets, Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper, September 29, 1932,, Photograph, September 12, 2011

a little bit of background
A little bit of background…
  • Taken on September 29, 1932, Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper, by Charles C. Ebbets, depicts 11 men taking a lunch break while building the RCA Building (known as GE building since 1986).
  • Ebbets’ photograph was taken during the Great Depression (beginning with the Stock Market Crash October 29, 1929). The photo shows the importance of a job at that time because work was so scarce.
ethos ethical appeal
Ethos: Ethical Appeal
  • This photo is credible because it is normal for laborers to stop where they are and eat their lunch in order to lose the least possible time.
  • Also, this photo is known nation-wide as the symbol of the American working class during the Great Depression.
logos logical appeal
Logos: Logical Appeal
  • This photo appeals to your sense of logic because the Great Depression is common knowledge.
  • It is well known that during that difficult period of time men would do anything just to have a job so that they could support their families. There would be no question of whether or not these men would go to these lengths to provide for their family.
pathos emotional appeal
Pathos: Emotional appeal
  • This photo appeals to you emotionally because it captures the true essence of the Great Depression.
  • It reveals how tough times really were, and became the symbol of all who were fortunate enough to have a job at that point. It tends to make those more fortunate thankful of what they have and how it was earned.
  • The buildings below are shown in order to show how high up the men are. This portrays the riskiness of the job but that it was a job so the men were thankful.
  • What is included that makes the photo more effective?
  • By taking the picture where only the bar that the men are sitting on is shown, it makes the photo more effective. It again shows how risky the job is, but that they are thankful just to have a job.
  • Why can you not see the rest of the building?
  • How would it change the effectiveness of the photo?
  • Yes, this photo is the symbol of the American working class during the Great Depression. It brings together the severity of the work, their perseverance, and how it has become a way of life for the workers because they were just happy to be making a living.
  • Does this photo portray any symbol?
  • If so what is it?
emphasis focus
  • The men are the most important part of the photograph. In a sense, these men are heroes. They are “resisting” the time period by finding available jobs and working hard.
  • There is emphasis put on the 11 men by making them darker than the buildings below them.
  • Why?
  • Yes, it is ironic that these men are acting normally when they are obviously very high off the ground. You see a man helping another light a cigarette. You see others eating their lunch and a few even appear to be laughing.
  • Is there any irony in a picture with such a serious meaning?
look at the men
Look at the men
  • Notice the shoes on some of the men, the way their hair looks, and the clothing they are wearing. Some have on nicer looking shoes, neater hair, and nicer clothing (presumably purchased before the depression). Ex. Some men are wearing overalls, some are wearing button-up shirts and pants. It can be inferred that before the depression some of the men were of higher-or lower- classes than others.
  • Do the men look like the are all of the same social class?
  • What clues support your answer?
  • Charles C. Ebbets, Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper, September 29, 1932,, Photograph, September 12, 2011