Movable Sculpture: “Lunchtime on a Skyscraper”

New York City is full of amazing public art, but Sergio Furnari’s sculpture, “Lunchtime on a Skyscraper – A Tribute to America’s Heros,” is truly unique. Furnari is a master craftsman who creates sculptures and artistic custom tile work. In creating “Lunchtime on a Skyscraper,” Furnari drew inspiration from an iconic 1932 photo of construction workers taking a lunch break on a high-up beam during the construction of one of the buildings at Rockefeller Center.





The sculpture has its own unique history. Furnari, an immigrant to New York City from Italy, finished it just after 9/11. The sculpture really resonated with the workers doing the clean up at the World Trade Center site. The sculpture spent 5 months at a temporary location near the site before going on a nationwide tour. Because the sculpture is mounted on a truck, it can be moved around. I’ve seen it multiple times near Furnari’s studio in Long Island City, Queens, near 10th Street/Vernon Blvd. and 45th Avenue. Every time I see it, I’m struck again by Furnari’s ability to portray these working class men in such a realistic way.

If you are traveling by subway, the closest subway station to this location is the Court Square station. If you head to Long Island City to visit one of the microbreweries (I’ve talked about them previously here, here, here, and here) or to see some of the community’s street art (see my post here), you should keep an eye out for this sculpture as well – finding it is always a special treat!

6 thoughts on “Movable Sculpture: “Lunchtime on a Skyscraper”

  1. Who is the original photo by–I have never seen it? There is so much detail in these statues you can really see the people. Great idea to make it totally movable like that since it makes accessible to so many more people. Why did someone think of that sooner?

    1. The photographer is officially “unknown.” For a time it was attributed to the Lewis Hine, who was known for his photography of working conditions and certainly did take some photos of skyscraper construction workers, but that theory was later rejected. It also is sometimes attributed to American photographer Charles Clyde Ebbets. I think the sculptural details are really powerful. Each man is actually his own separate sculpture, and then all 11 have been placed on the single beam. At one point, someone took one of the statues, but the police were able to recover it.

      1. I’ll look up the photo. Thanks for the info–it will really help in tracking it down. In a way stealing the statue is a compliment, but they really needed the set. Glad the police got it back.

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