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Meet NYC’s Famous Construction Workers

As a manmade empire, New York City prides itself on its skyline and structures. Behind those structures are the construction workers, carpenters, and architects who built them. Meet some of them who’ve risen to fame through their construction skills.

Gamaliel King

Gamliel King, a carpenter and grocer who lived in New York in the 1800s, rose to success as he used his carpentry skills to build many of New York City’s structures with partner and foreman John Kellum. Here are some of his buildings:

  • Brooklyn City Hall (Greek Revival)
  • Friends’ Meeting House (Italianate), a stop on the Underground Railroad and now the Brotherhood Synagogue
  • The Washington Square United Methodist Church (Gothic Revival), now condominiums
  • Kings County Savings Bank

Renzo Piano

From a family of Italian builders, Renzo Piano grew up under the influence of his grandfather’s masonry company. After attracting attention for his projects in Italy in the 70s, Piano expanded into international building work, eventually opening his own firm with British architect Richard Rogers. In New York City, he’s since built the following:

  • New York Times Building
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Morgan Library extension
  • 565 Broome (a twin-tower residential building)

For his buildings and designs, Piano is considered an important contributor to today’s culture around the world. Among many other awards throughout his career, he won the 1998 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” Men

A symbolic photo of New York City’s history, this famous portrait features 11 construction workers eating lunch on the soon-to-be-completed Rockefeller Center. The New York Times featured the newly identified names of some of these depression-era workers, whom many New Yorkers can identify with as their ancestors or symbols of their own hard work toward the American dream:

  • Joseph Eckner
  • Joe Curtis
  • Sonny Glynn
  • Matty Shaughnessy

AECOM Tishman

AECOM Tishman is one of the most important construction companies of today’s New York City. Daniel McQuade leads the Construction Services division, and was President of Tishman Construction before it was acquired by AECOM. The group leads the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site, and AECOM tops all NYC ground-up construction projects in square footage, according to The Real Deal. It also comes in as the fifth largest general contractor for alterations and renovations.

Want to take your interest in building skills to the next level? Explore the Construction and Building Skills program at Apex.

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.