© Damon Winter/The New York Times

On the 70th floor, the end of the line for the hoist, you emerge and climb five more stories inside a cage staircase attached to the outside of the building’s south face before taking a final flight of stairs. At the top of these you see — disconcertingly, even though you have known where you were heading all along — brilliant sunshine. Above you is blue sky and two floors of skeletal steel not yet covered in decking. The only other thing overhead, on the bare beams, is the remarkably small tripartite crew of workers doing jobs that have remained virtually unchanged since steel-frame construction began a little more than a century ago: guiding the steel into place as the cranes lift it up (the raising gang), securing it permanently (the bolting gang) and ensuring that all of it is vertically true (the plumb-up gang).

Christopher Marron, a 39-year-old first-year apprentice ironworker who once worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (he was there the morning of 9/11), seems to speak plainly for them all: “I look forward to getting here. I look forward to working my ass off. I look forward to sweating. And I look forward to finishing this building. I plan on staying all the way to the top.”

Ironworkers of the Sky, New York Times Magazine, 9/4/11

[Video and slideshow also available in above article…entry I had done last year on my own experience here…]