Here’s a good way to spend the next hour (or four): Time recently released a list of the 100 most influential images of all time, looking back at the more than 150-year history of photography to determine that shots that have seeped into humanity’s collective unconscious, and shaped history as we know it.
The list is chock-full of some of the most recognizable photos ever taken: William Anders’s "Earthrise," snapped from the Apollo 8 spacecraft in 1968, for example, or even the selfie of a bunch of Hollywood celebrities taken by Bradley Cooper during the 2015 Oscars. Many are heartbreaking, showing the devastating consequences of war, famine, and disease (so consider yourself warned).
There are also, unsurprisingly, a few New York City-centric images on the list, including the iconic "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper," taken in 1932 during construction on the building that would eventually become 30 Rockefeller Center. For years, myths surrounded the photo: that it was taken atop the Empire State Building, or that it was a spontaneous shot, captured off the cuff in the middle of a workday.
But nope: It was a staged image, shot by an unknown photographer (yes, to this day), and it was eventually used in a promotion for the skyscraper. As Time puts it, the photo "has since become an iconic emblem of the city in which it was taken, affirming the romantic belief that New York is a place unafraid to tackle projects that would cow less brazen cities."
Other New York-centric images made the list, though none are quite as buoyant as the Rockefeller Center snap. The most recent is Richard Drew’s "Falling Man," taken on September 11, 2001, showing a worker who was trapped atop one of the Twin Towers escaping the building in the only horrible way possible. Others include paparazzo Ron Galella’s photo of a free-wheeling Jackie Kennedy on the Upper East Side, Babe Ruth’s last emotional appearance at Yankee Stadium, and the iconic V-J Day kiss in Times Square.