The World’s Most Fearless Cleaners

Enormous man-made structures won’t just clean themselves, you know. Thank goodness then for the brave few who seem more than happy to scale such beasts in an effort to de-grime them; apparently fearless as they swing next to, hang from, and climb up the world’s most impressively large landmarks with bucket and sponge in hand and sturdy stomach. To help you appreciate the job in hand, here are some stunning but often gut-wrenching photos.


Empire State Building
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Above: Workers calmly clean the Empire State Building in 1932, attached to its exterior by way of a simple harness. Pedestrians on the streets below are nothing but dots in the distance.


Big Ben
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Big Ben 1930
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Above: In 2007, a team of workers hang in front of Big Ben, bucket in hand, and clean the clock-face. In the next photo, a Mr. Larkin is lowered from the top of Big Ben to do the same job, but in 1930.


The Space Needle
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The Space Needle 2
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The Space Needle 3
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The Space Needle 4
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The Space Needle 5
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Above: In 2008, three gutsy employees of Karcher GmbH & Co ascended Seattle’s 600ft-high Space Needle and blasted its exterior with pressure washers; its first clean since 1962.


World Trade Center
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Above: Two brave men clean the North Tower of the World Trade Center, then the tallest building on Earth.


Mount Rushmore
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Mount Rushmore 2
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Mount Rushmore 3
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Above: In 2005, five pressure washers filled with cold water were carefully aimed at the Mount Rushmore sculpture in a bid to clean its four enormous heads. The job took three weeks to complete.


Beijing Aquatics Center
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Beijing Aquatics Center 2
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Above: Prior to its opening as a venue for the Olympic Games in 2008, the bubbled surface of Beijing’s huge ‘Water Cube” aquatics centre was cleaned.


The Burj Khalifa
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The Burj Khalifa 2
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Above: The world’s tallest building requires a lot of cleaning; especially its windows as it boasts a whopping 1,292,500 sq ft of glass and is whipped by sand on a daily basis. The second photo shows one of many boom units used to lower workers.


The Rockefeller Center
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Above: A fearless cleaner stands precariously on a ledge of the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, in 1961.

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18 Responses to The World’s Most Fearless Cleaners

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  3. sonia says:

    At least nobody will be there, checking with the finger, if things were really well cleaned!! :)

  4. van says:

    must be doing something else, world trade center had automatic washing machine

  5. Just looking at these pictures gets my vertigo going. Looks like the Seattle “Space Needle” has some leaky drum problems with its elevator. I wonder how many buildings have been build with out taking this into consideration until the grime showed up? And you can bet those rope swingers are very well compensated for their efforts.$$$$

  6. Fran says:

    I love to clean. but on this job I’ll pass cause I have no life insurance.

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  8. scatmaster says:

    What no women doing that kind of work.

    • darkdirk says:

      Don’t you know? Women clean the INSIDES of buildings; men clean the OUTSIDES
      (I actually once read a division of domestic labour study that found this to be generally true)

  9. Margo Howland says:

    Makes me dizzy just looking at them…

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  12. matt says:

    i do this kind of work. it’s effing crazy on windy days with the rope swinging around the side of the building. actually there are women where i live who hang from the side of buildings. since we do this all year long it kinda sucks in the summer and winter but other then that i love it. i only wish it didn’t take such a huge toll on my body.

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  15. michael says:

    Thank God for ropes!!!!!

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