Charles Rivers (1905-1993), the son of Greek immigrant textile workers, was an iron worker who helped build the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. He was also a labor organizer and political activist. Rivers was interested in photography from an early age and believed that photographs could inspire social reform. In the early 1930s he took course at the Workers Film and Photo League. His photographs of the construction of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings have been exhibited in museums around the United States. Finding himself out of work as the Depression deepened, Rivers became a full-time photographer. He photographed numerous unemployment marches and rallies for social security, and public housing during the 1930s. Later, Rivers became active in Democratic Party politics and worked as a legislative aide in the New York State Senate. He continued taking documentary photographs of street demonstrations, slum housing, and peace marches until well into the 1980s.

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