On August 7, 1974, stuntman Philippe Petit dared the impossible and walked a tightrope strung between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.
In In a daring act of will, Philippe Petit walks a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers.
As the Freedom Tower nears completion, its opening will highlight an unusual anniversary for New York—40 years since the city watched an intrepid Frenchman walk along an illegally rigged cable between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and inspired the world with a daring act of will. Philippe Petit, an acrobat and street performer, had planned the walk for six years and visited the towers more than 200 times in the three months leading up to the event.
Two days before his high-wire walk, Petit and his four accomplices snuck past Port Authority guards and took their equipment to the topmost floors of the then-unfinished North Tower. The men proceeded to install a galvanized steel cable between the towers—using a five-foot crossbow to shoot the initial ropes across, no less.
Shortly after dawn on August 7, 1974, a week before his 25th birthday, the Frenchman stepped onto the wire and made eight passes across its 130-foot distance. More than a quarter mile above the ground, Petit saluted delighted spectators by performing knee bends and other stunts. After 45 minutes, he turned himself in to policemen waiting at the end of his wire. He was taken to a hospital downtown, where he was given a psychological examination, and then sent to jail.
Petit was released later that day under an agreement that his charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass would be dropped in exchange for a free aerial performance in a city park to benefit “the children of the city.”
Now an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, Petit has performed several re-creations of his legendary stunt. He claims in Man on Wire, a 2008 documentary about the feat, that he attempted the walk simply because it seemed impossible, a sentiment echoed in his recent book, Creativity: The Perfect Crime. On the eve of the World Trade Center’s resurrection, it is an apt parable for New York itself, the perennial home for those who dare to dream and innovate.
SourceMURAT OZTASKIN, http://gotham-magazine.com, PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAN WEINER/AP PHOTO, 29th June, 2014