Halsey Knapp has one of the best views in Portland.

Knapp, 45, is the crane operator for a construction project at 667 Congress St. — the former location of Joe’s Smoke Shop.

Every morning before 7, Knapp scales a series of ten 16-foot ladders to his perch about 150 feet above street level. From there, the Houlton resident has sweeping 360-degree views of the city, the mountains and the sea.

Not that it matters.

“I don’t get to look around much,” Knapp said, “but it’s a nice view.”

The view is secondary to the fast-paced, yet painstaking work and the safety of his co-workers, who erect the heavy steel beams that Knapp lowers to them. About 40 people are working on the building during its current phase — erecting steel. About 100 workers are involved overall.

Intense focus is key to the job, according to Senior Superintendent Bill Lawrence, who works for the general contractor, PC Construction.

“Those men down there are trusting (Knapp) with their lives,” he said.

The crane can lift 11 tons close to its support column, and nearly 3 tons at its farthest end — nearly 200 feet out. The crane’s counterweight weighs 23.5 tons.

Before Knapp leaves for the day at 5:30 p.m., he puts the crane in “windvane mode,” which allows the crane to electrically orient itself into the direction of the wind, which reduces stress on the structure.

Knapp’s official title is Operating Engineer. He’s a member of IUOE Local 4 and works for Arc Erecting, a subcontractor for 667 Congress Street, which is building an eight-story residential and retail complex with 139 apartments and 84 parking spaces. It will also house a new iteration of the former landmark store, soon to be called Joe’s Super Variety.

The project is slated for completion June 2017. The crane will be operating at the site through August of this year.

Knapp said the best part of the job is its variety of challenges and “learn(ing) something new every day.” The most difficult aspect is “communicating (with other workers) 200 feet away.”

Asked whether he is afraid of heights, the soft-spoken crane operator offered a brief, deadpan response.

“Don’t appear to be.”