No Gods, No Masters: The Subversive Symbolism of Topping Out

As the many skyscrapers being built in downtown San Francisco near their completion, you may notice a giant American flag proudly displayed near the top, along with an undecorated Christmas tree. The raising of the flag signifies the building has reached its maximum height, but not its completion.  It is a part of the “topping out” ceremony, an ancient pagan tradition adopted and carried on exclusively by American high steel ironworkers since the 1880’s.

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