Charles Ebbets es el autor de esta famosa fotografía, casi convertida en icono, que durante los años 30 documentó la construcción del Rockefeller Center de Nueva York. En ella se ven cómo los obreros toman un descanso para comer sentados en una viga de acero a una altura considerable. La imagen sirvió para denunciar las precarias condiciones laborales de los Estados Unidos en esa época de depresión.
Charles Ebbets (1905- 1978) actor, corredor de autos, luchador, cazador, pescador y piloto de avión, fue contratado para documentar la construcción del Rockefeller Center en Nueva York, durante la época de la depresión en Estados Unidos, en la década de los años 30.
Los obreros que construyen el RCA Building del Rockefeler Center en New York, toman un descanso en su trabajo para almorzar sentados en una viga de acero a una altura de 800 pies sobre la tierra.
Este icono, una de las imágenes más reconocidas del mundo, pertenece a la colección The Bettmann Archive. El archivo Bettmann, fundado por Otto Bettmann en 1936, recoge una colección de 11 millones de fotografías e incluye algunas de las mejores imágenes históricas de Estados Unidos. En la actualidad el archivo pertenece a la compañía Corbis, propiedad de Bill Gates.
La imagen, que en su momento servía como documento de denuncia de las condiciones laborales de Estados Unidos tras la depresión, ha perdido todo su simbolismo social e histórico como documento. El carácter inicial de la imagen se desvirtualiza y pasa a convertirse un objeto más de venta, de márketing. Donde la parte de documento histórico-social se pierde.
The historic photographic career of Charlie Ebbets spans over 60 years. Having obtained his first camera at age 8, he began this career in the early 1920's working in St. Petersburg, Florida as a still photographer. Later, he became involved in early motion picture work both in front of, and behind the camera. In 1924, he enjoyed a brief stint as an actor playing the role of an adventuresome African hunter known as "Wally Renny".
During the "Roaring 20's", he did photographic work throughout the Southeast. He was a pilot, a wing-walk, an auto racer, a wrestler, an avid hunter, and would become a record setting fresh and saltwater fisherman. During this early period he was also a prizefighter Jack Dempsey's official staff photographer, a staff photographer for the Miami Daily News and did freelance photography.
In 1927, The first attempt was made to cross the dirt road from Miami to Tampa called the "Tamiami Trail". Charlie was chosen to be one of the three men making the trip by virtue of his extensive knowledge of the region and wildlife, and of course, his ability with a camera to document the adventure for newspapers and the Essex Motor Company who sponsored the trip and car. The photos of their success were carried in newspapers across the country.
As the 1930's came around, Charlie was a well known photographer and had work published in the New York Times. In 1932, he was appointed photographic director for the Rockefeller Center which was under construction in New York. In September of that year, he would take the photo which would later define his work and which is now regarded by many as the most famous photo of the 20th century, "Men at Lunch". Charlie moved permanently to Florida in 1933. His interests were now focused on the exciting growth in the state, the unique Seminole Indians and the vast expanse of untouched nature in the Everglades. In 1935, Charlie became the first official Associated Press photographer in the state. His photo of the infamous 1935 hurricane were circulated worldwide.
At the start of World War II, Charlie was prevented from serving in the military because of a broken back sustained while taking photos in the Everglades. However, because he was a licensed pilot and a photographer, he served as an attache to the Army Air Corps Special Services and would later be assigned to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute which was training American and British Royal Air force. During the war, he spent time in South America working under General "Hap" Arnold who oversaw the training of American and British pilots at bases in Brazil. This era contains historic photos of early wartime aviation.
At the end of World War II Charlie returned to his home in Miami and would be one of the three founders of the City of Miami Publicity Bureau. For the next 17 years he was the Chief Photographer of the City if Miami. Charlie's work during this period would build an extensive collection of everglades birds and wildlife photography and would document the growth of Miami as a mecca of the tourist industry. He is credited with creating the first "Cheesecake" photograph. His photographs were featured in the Miami Daily News, The New York Times, National Geographic, Outdoors Unlimited, Field & Stream, Popular Boating, U.S. Camera, Outdoor Life, Look Magazine, Popular Photography, Florida Outdoors, and others. Charles Clyde Ebbets died of Cancer in 1978 at the age of 72. However, much of his work can still be found in print, old books, post cards in private collections across the country, and with growing interest on the Internet.