Photo Gallery: Workers Build a New Water Tower While Standing On Top Of It

Mildred Alpern caught a rare and awesome sight on Friday: workers building a water tower on top of a building on 87th Street. Water towers may symbolize old New York, but they build new ones too.

See her pictures and description below.

“Working high up, among the swooping birds, these unsung heroes make the city hum as they install a new Christmas present for one of the buildings on 87th St., between Riverside Drive and West End Ave. Tackling the heights, they construct a new water tower with skill and daring, real team work.”

Learn more about the history of water towers in the city here.

NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. geoff says:

      i admire these folks for their courage and i guess they are paid well because of the difficult working conditions, and the need to d the job quickly. i would not consider them heroes.

      in fact, they strike me as reckless, perhaps even scofflaws. they appear to be not wearing any type of fall-arrest gear which surely is a violation of OSHA regulations, and if they did fall, the insurance coverage would fall along with the victim. in the end, the public would end up paying, through higher rates, for the workers’s flippancy and carelessness.

      • geoff says:

        some helpful information for those who have analyzed the photos and come to a different conclusion than i:. here is a link with photos ( ) to what fall arrest gear looks like, with some examples of how it works.

        fall arrest gear also requires a ‘shock absorber’ component (a lanyard) because without it, the sudden stop at the end of your lanyard will kill you as sure as hitting the ground.

        fall arrest systems require a solid anchor and connection to it, for obvious reasons. the anchor can, in some circumstances (home roofers, for example) be connected to a piece of reinforcing bar (‘rebar’) of a sufficient length, inserted into a plumbing system vent that protrudes from the roof.

        i use fall arrest gear in my work.

        these men have not complied with OSHA regulations, and the company that hires them should be reported to OSHA using the photos s evidence.

        is it possible that the men photographed, or their employer is responding to this allegation out of fear of exposure?

        • I have many more pictures than those published in the West Side Rag that show clearly the workers complying wearing the harnesses with the safety lines, including lanyards.

    2. lynn says:

      So the orange strappy gear that they’re all wearing is just to be fashionable, lol?

    3. Robert says:

      Look. They are all harnessed properly. Perhaps an apology to your ignorance would suite

    4. I hope to hear reported soon that the construction company was fined heavily for workplace violations for the people who were not wearing their safety equipment. Men working without safety lines are a danger to themselves their coworkers and anybody who happens to be below them. Totally disgusting

      • UpperwestsideWally says:

        1. From the picture one can see that they are wearing safety equipment.
        2. This was pointed out by Lynn and Robert, well before your post.
        I just don’t understand…

        • Woody says:

          Blame it on the supposed need to moderate comments by WSR, not the commenters. There’s sometimes a long lag between when a comment is made and when it is actually posted. If comments were posted in real-time, there wouldn’t be this type of choppy conversation. It’s silly to prevent adults from having free-flow conversations. Are people’s skins that thin?

      • young_man! says:

        Please use your eyes. These guys are obviously wearing safety harnesses.

    5. Cato says:

      Well, safety gear or not, congratulations are due to the residents on 87th Street between West End and Riverside who will finally, after all these years, have indoor plumbing.

    6. kaylord says:

      Cool photos! I wonder if someone (Mildred) can show them to the workers. They might love seeing them. Are they following safety protocols?!

    7. Kenneth says:

      They are clearly wearing harnesses and the safety lines are visible in the photographs.

    8. 92nd Street says:

      Amazing business!
      There are three total companies in the City that rebuild Gravity Tanks, and so they can charge whatever they like.
      Unsure of a decent profession for your adult children, look no further.

    9. Peter Salwen says:

      Great pictures, Mildred. Thanks for sharing them. Rosenwach tanks (notice the four wooden “R”s on the centerpost) are the grace notes of the NYC skyline.

    10. cma says:

      Great Photos, Mildred Alpern, thank you! Especially difficult to get close ups of workers on the job. Would be curious to know what kind of camera was used. Top piece might indicate a Rosenwach tank?

    11. Tim says:

      Cool pics, but it seems obvious that in some pics, men are not connected via safety lines to the structure, even though they are wearing body harnesses. They and their company should definitely be reported to OSHA.