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Exhibition Not an Ostrich: & Other Images from America's Library

Oscar Graubner. [Margaret Bourke-White atop the Chrysler Building], ca. 1930. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (46.00.00) © Oscar Graubner/Getty Images/TIME Life Collection

OSCAR GRAUBNER. Margaret Bourke-White on Chrysler Building. New York, New York, 1930

At the start of her career, Margaret Bourke-White moved to New York to become a commercial photographer and a staff photographer for Fortune Magazine in 1929. Among her early jobs was photographing the Chrysler Building as it rose to briefly become New York’s tallest structure. When workmen began to construct the building’s modern gargoyles off the sixty-first floor, Bourke-White decided “here would be my new studio. . . I loved the view so much that I often crawled out on the gargoyles, which projected over the street 800 feet below, to take pictures of the changing moods of the city.” This photograph, taken by her darkroom technician, came to epitomize Bourke-White’s fearless determination.