High Steel: This 1970s Documentary About Mohawks Building Manhattan Sky Scrapers Is Incredible


High Steel: This 1970s Documentary About Mohawks Building Manhattan Sky Scrapers Is Incredible

The year was 1916 and the event was the construction of the Hell Gate Bridge. It was this occasion that brought a significant number of Native Americans from the Mohawk Tribe to New York and gave rise to the legend of the Mohawk iron worker that helped to literally build New York from the ground up. During that early bridge construction, Mohawks tended to gravitate toward the most difficult and challenging of jobs, riveting. Impressing supervisors and other workers, the stories of the Mohawk iron men soon grew.

When New York went on a building boom the likes of which the world had never see, the Mohawks were there as well. Often stationed 12 hours from home for weeks at a time, they erected the steel frames of the most famous buildings in the world and did it with a stoic confidence that was seemingly impossible to define.

The Mohawk men were never impervious to fear but their managed it in a different way that made them seem invincible. Their work was speedy, accurate, and safe, which is a loosely based term.

This documentary made by the Film Board of Canada is amazing because we live the life of the high steel with a Mohawk man. We see near misses, sweat, relaxation, and what he’s working for by the end of the film. This really is awesome.

Press play below to watch this amazing short film called High Steel –


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6 thoughts on “High Steel: This 1970s Documentary About Mohawks Building Manhattan Sky Scrapers Is Incredible

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    These brave men’s efforts were repaid in full by forced to live in conditions worse than some poor third world country. Time for the US to recognise the contribution that Native Americans have made to their society and treat them like human beings with the same rights and privileges as enjoyed other citizens.

    Reply
    1. Patrick

      Good job Geordie, factually wrong, you live in a country that prided itself on “colonizing and civilizing” the rest of the world, no matter that he people there didn’t want that. India, Southeast Asia, Africa, to name a few. Also actively began and pursued the slave trade in many countries… BTW I hate Chebbies too, but you are way out on this one. Hey, the sun never sees on the British Empire!!

      Reply
  2. Gary

    OK, CHMG just went off the reservation…these were CANANDIAN Indians, CHMG, not from the USA. The lived in a very nice community, because they chose to work for a living and not sit on a Reservation drinking and doing drugs. WTF do you get off thinking Americans don’t treat Indians like human beings with the same rights and privledges as other citizens? Hell, I though you had half a brain, now I’m not so sure!

    Reply
  3. Clarence Sifton

    I worked most of my life beside Ironworkers on high steel construction and gained a lot of respect for their trade. Being an electrician you had to scale all the same steel beams that were erected to install electrical systems in the buildings. The film is very unnerving when even in my day you had to wear fall arrest harnesses and most high open steel jobs safety nets were installed. Another thing is everyone in the film is smoking!
    Actually there is a lot more to the ironworking trade than high steel erection like any other skilled occupation.

    Reply
  4. Piston Pete

    I began doing union construction work the day after I graduated from high school in 1971, and although not part of the original plan, continued doing so well into my 30’s with breaks for some college, USAF, and a few ‘tide me over for the winter’ gigs. Most of my working interaction with iron workers was as a laborer working for carpenters and as a carpenter myself building large concrete forms with rod busters. I was single and crazy during most of that time and I ALWAYS went drinkin’ with the iron workers. A different breed. This is an awesome video.

    Reply

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