The 47-storey Singer Building was the largest in the world when it was completed in 1908. Pennell climbed to the top to gain this high perspective. This enabled him to incorporate the Hudson River, a recurring theme in his work.
Like Whistler, river life fascinated Pennell. In 1886 he travelled to France with P G Hamerton to illustrate his book The Saône; A Summer Voyage. In London he lived in areas overlooking the Thames and his last home in Brooklyn Heights from 1921 faced New York harbour.