Laying a beam, Empire State Building, New York, c 1931.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The picture shows members of a derrick gang fixing a beam during the construction of the Empire State Building, showing the streets of New York far below them. Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940) used photography as a documentary tool to inspire social reform: his subjects included child labour, the immigrants of Ellis Island and construction workers in industry, railways and building. They reveal both the horror of exploitation and the dignity of work.