On the Vertical Frontier

What do high-rise construction workers, laboring on the vertical frontier, tell themselves about their work, the risk and the reward?

Scott Small, Laborer, 3 World Trade Center May 2016 Photo Jack Davison for The New York Times Magazine
Scott Small, Laborer, 3 World Trade Center May 2016 Photo Jack Davison for The New York Times Magazine

At last count, in a single year, over 800 workers died on U.S. job sites according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does it mean to be part of a highly ambitious man-made endeavor that rises tall enough to kiss the clouds? Recently, we had the opportunity to find out, interviewing dozens of high-rise construction workers (whose jobs include battling shredding winds, freezing cold and the scorching hot summer sun) on two of the tallest new construction buildings in New York City—3 World Trade Center and 10 Hudson Yards. We asked them about their work, the risk and the reward. And alongside the images of highly talented young photographer, Jack Davison, who captures the grit and the glory of these highest of high-rise workers, a collection of their thought-provoking responses are in an article for The New York Times Magazine called

Big Shoulders,” part of the Times Magazine’s fascinating look at life above 800 feet in a city relentlessly on the rise.

One of our biggest takeaways? No matter your vocation, In order to connect a purpose to your work, you must understand not just what you do, but why.

Bonus: For a mind-blowing visit to the highest peak of New York City, check out the issue’s VR experience where you get to climb to the top of the One World Trade Center needle (and live to tell about it!).

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