'The Beam' ride soars visitors 800 feet above NYC, recreates iconic 'Lunch Atop a Skyscraper' photo

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Rockefeller Center's 'The Beam' ride soars visitors 800 feet above NYC
The exhilarating ride recreates an iconic moment and photograph first published in the New York-Herald-Tribune on Oct. 2, 1932.

NEW YORK CITY -- Get ready to hold on tight in a grand opportunity to soar sky-high atop one of New York City's tallest buildings.

"Top of the Rock: The Beam" is a new attraction located on the 69th floor of Rockefeller Center. A recreated beam lifts visitors 12 feet above the 30 Rockefeller Plaza observation deck before rotating them 180 degrees for a breathtaking view of Central Park and beyond.

The once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity also provides visitors a chance to cozy up inside Top of the Rock's new dining experience, The Weather Room, with some hot cocoa and snacks.

The exhilarating ride recreates an iconic moment and photograph first published in the New York-Herald-Tribune on Oct. 2, 1932. "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper" shows 11 ironworkers casually eating while sitting precariously on a steel beam more than 800 feet above the ground. The photograph was taken as a publicity shot during the construction of the 69th floor of the 30 Rock building.

According to Rockefeller Center's website, more than 40,000 people helped build the Midtown building. The identities of the beam workers, however, have long remained a mystery.

In 2010, filmmakers Seán and Éamonn Ó Cualáín stumbled across a copy of the photograph in a small pub in Galway, Ireland. A note left by local emigrant Pat Glynn claiming that his father and uncle-in-law were among the workers inspired the two to embark on a quest to find the names of those on the beam.

A search through archival photographs revealed the names of two of the workers, but with no paper trail remaining from the time of construction, the Cualáín brothers could not definitively prove Glynn's family members were in the photo.

One thing they are sure about: the crew who helped build one of New York City's structural marvels represented a diverse group of people, including the Irish, Italians, Scandinavians, Eastern Europeans, Germans and even Mohawk people from Canada.

The Beam is part of Rockefeller Center's ongoing plan to reimagine and enhance the visitor experience on its observation deck. In 2024, another experience called the Sky Lift will debut on the 70th floor and lift visitors 30 feet above the uppermost rooftop upon a circular glass platform. The plan also includes a new Mezzanine Level that will showcase Rockfeller's history through interactive exhibits, new theater opportunities, digital models and other innovative technologies.

If you're interested in riding The Beam, tickets can be purchased on Rockefeller Center's website.