Ever since I started working here, I’ve been able to watch day by day as a new skyscraper is built about two blocks away from my building. When I started last August it wasn’t much more than a hole in the ground as they worked on the foundation; now there is a steel framework stretching up about 25 floors, with a central concrete core that’s going up what looks to be at least another ten floors or so. Pretty much anytime I look out my windows I can see construction workers scurrying around this thing looking like ants on playground monkey bars, flashes of light and sparks from the welding — and one of the most fascinating pieces, the tower crane that’s hauling all the steel beams up from street level up to wherever they need to go on the building.

Of course, those cranes have to get taller somehow as the building goes up — a process which I’d never completely understood. Today I get to watch it happening, and there is no way you could ever pay me enough to be part of an operation like this! I’m pretty convinced at this point that you have to be certifiably insane to become a high-rise construction worker — this stuff is just crazy. Since you obviously don’t have one taller crane avaiable to help raise the crane, the contraption has to ‘grow’ as the project gets taller. This is done by an outer ‘raiser’ unit that detaches the top of the crane from the mast, lifts the top up about 24 feet, then sets it back down after a new 20-foot section is slipped into the gap (this page has some pictures of the operation). Just amazing…they’re in the process of lifting the top of the crane here at the moment, with the new section poised to go in — and a second section hanging from the crane waiting to be added next. Meanwhile, the entire time this is going on, there are workers climbing all up and down both the riser unit and the top of the crane, getting everything set to slide the new piece in.

Yup. They’re all insane. And I’m quite happy to keep all of my jobs with my feet planted firmly on a solid surface.