Amazing Photographs Revealed: Construction Workers Scaling New Heights to Install Antenna Atop World Trade Center, 1979

Photographer Peter B. Kaplan’s Breathtaking Shots Capture the Thrilling Journey

In a daring photographic expedition back in 1979, esteemed photographer Peter B. Kaplan embarked on a gripping 12-day assignment to document the awe-inspiring installation of a communication antenna atop the North Tower of the iconic World Trade Center.

The ambitious addition, stretching an astonishing 360 feet into the skies, saw the intrepid crew working at heart-stopping heights, approximately 1,728 feet above the bustling streets of Manhattan.

Kaplan’s lenses didn’t just focus on the challenging labor; they also captured moments of camaraderie and playfulness among the fearless construction workers. Taking a well-deserved break, the men seized the opportunity to pose for Kaplan’s camera, resulting in the enchanting shot titled “Moon Over Manhattan.”

Little did they know that this jovial moment would later become a poignant memory. One of the men in the photograph, Dickie Riley, tragically passed away due to an illness stemming from his selfless cleanup efforts following the devastating events of 9/11.

In pursuit of capturing such breath-catching shots, Kaplan defied gravity itself, pushing the boundaries of traditional photography. Armed with poles and fisheye lenses, he offered the world a perspective from lofty perches most could only dream of witnessing. Ingeniously mounting his camera on poles ranging from 17 to 42 feet, Kaplan managed to immortalize scenes that were previously beyond the reach of ordinary photographers.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the antenna held immense financial significance for the building’s owners. Replacing the Empire State Building’s transmitter for all New York TV channels, it became a crucial revenue source. Moreover, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the antenna’s height played a pivotal role in bestowing the World Trade Center’s North Tower with the title of the world’s tallest structure, measuring an impressive 1,741 feet to the top.

Photographer Peter B. Kaplan was the only photographer allowed to work high above the top of the north tower of the World Trade Center as the building’s man antenna was constructed.

The story of the original twin towers of the World Trade Center itself is one of architectural rivalry. Upon its completion in 1971, the North Tower proudly reigned as the tallest at 1,368 feet, standing tall until its sibling, the South Tower, reached its completion at 1,362 feet in 1973. The towers’ reign, however, was short-lived as the Sears Tower surpassed both in 1974, soaring to an unprecedented 1,451 feet.

Reflecting back on his incredible photographic journey, Kaplan humorously remarked, “It cracked me up when I saw the selfie stick. What, are they kidding? I had a selfie stick back in the ’70s.” His pioneering spirit and undeniable talent have left an indelible mark on the world of photography, capturing not only extraordinary moments in time but also the spirit of humanity’s pursuit of new heights.

(Photos by Peter B. Kaplan)

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