Former homeless recreate ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ photograph

Former homeless from Emmaus Cambridge recreated the iconic ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ photograph

Former homeless from Emmaus Cambridge recreated the iconic ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ photograph taken in New York in the 30s. - Credit: Emmaus Cambridge / (maybe) Charles Clyde Ebbets

Former homeless people from one of the county’s charities have come together to recreate the iconic 1930s photograph ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’.  

Several Emmaus Cambridge residents have been superimposed onto the renowned girder high above New York to regenerate the famous black and white snap.  

The original photograph depicts 11 men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling 840 feet above the New York City streets.  

It was taken on September 20 1932 on the 69th floor of the RCA Building during the last months of construction and according to archivists, the photograph was prearranged.  

Charles Clyde Ebbets, Tom Kelley, or William Leftwich. Lunch atop a skyscraper

Lunch atop a Skyscraper, published in the New York Herald-Tribune, October 2 1932. - Credit: Charles Clyde Ebbets, Tom Kelley, or William Leftwich.

Emmaus Cambridge is home to 44 formerly homeless people and offers support to rough sleepers by giving them a home, work and guides them to rebuild their lives.  


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A charity spokesperson said: “Our companion development worker, Marten Rae, asked some of our companions to take part in the recreation of the photograph and the result is pretty spectacular. 

“All the people featured are formerly homeless individuals who now live and work within the Emmaus Cambridge community.  

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“Amongst those featured in the photo recreation is Jon and Tom who are both successfully rebuilding their lives here at Emmaus Cambridge. 

“Companions are welcome to stay for as long as they want to, with some moving on after a few months and others have lived here with us for over 20 years.  

The Emmaus Cambridge community is based in Landbeach, and is the oldest Emmaus community in the UK, celebrating 30 years this year.  

All the people featured are formerly homeless individuals who now live and work within the Emmaus Cambridge community.

All the people featured are formerly homeless individuals who now live and work within the Emmaus Cambridge community. - Credit: Emmaus Cambridge

There are currently 29 Emmaus communities across the country, supporting more than 800 formerly homeless people in the UK. 

Companions living in Emmaus communities are expected to sign off all benefits, with the exception of housing benefit, which is used to help to support the community.  

The rest of the funding that is needed is generated through social enterprise and fundraising. 

Emmaus communities deliver a significant return on investment.  

Research shows that for every £1 invested in a community, there is an £11 return, with savings to the benefits bill, health services and a reduction in crime reoffending. 

For more information, visit: www.emmaus.org.uk/cambridge/  

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