This glowing image by William Dodge Stevens is one of the most powerful of World War I. Three riveters symbolize the intense concentration of effort required to win the war (note that welding was still years off--the hulls had to be riveted together.) In its monumentality and explosive energy, Teamwork Builds Ships foreshadows the dynamic murals of the WPA period.
Stevens' poster mirrors the spirit of the U.S. Shipping Board, which was brilliantly managed by Charles Schwab, the Bethlehem steel executive and inventor of a modular cargo ship design. Schwab's innovation allowed American shipyards to assemble prefabricated steel sections at incredible speed. The result was that American food and materiel poured into Europe, thus overwhelming Germany. By the end of the war, America's fleet had been transformed into the second biggest in the world.