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Charles Sheeler, American, 1883–1965, Ford Plant, River Rouge, Stamping Press, 1927; gelatin silver print. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Lane Collection.

Here, a worker oversees a huge machine that stamps out car fenders. It rises above him like an altar, reflecting Sheeler’s statement that America’s factories are “our substitutes for religious expression” and similar sentiments expressed by President Calvin Coolidge, who proclaimed, “the man who builds a factory builds a temple, [and] the man who works there worships there.”