As a passenger aeroplane flies seemingly very close to Petit, and the top of the World Trade Center, in this image taken from the ground some 1,350 feet below the enormity of the Frenchmans achievement is made clear. Photo AP
Is it a Bird, a Plane, or Superman?
On a shimmering day in August 1974, Philippe Petit balanced precariously on a wire 110 stories above Manhattan – and looked down…
To me it’s so simple, that life should be lived on the edge of life. You have to exercise rebellion; to refuse to taper yourself to rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge, and then you are going to live your life on a tightrope.
People in Lower Manhattan stopped in their tracks to watch a strange event in the sky—not a bird, not a plane, and certainly not Superman. In 1974, just a year after the Twin Towers were completed, a French tightrope artist, Philip Petit set out to achieve his ultimate goal: to string and walk a wire between the Towers.
Combining the cunning of a second story man with the nerve of an Evel Knievel, a French high wire artist sneaked past guards at the World Trade center, ran a cable between the tops of its twin towers and tightrope walked across it in the early morning.
Hundreds of spectators created traffic jam shortly after 7:15 A.M. in the streets 1,350 feet below as they watched the black clad figure outlined against the gray morning sky tiptoeing back and forth across the meticulously rigged 131-foot cable.
Philippe Petit went to New York for the first time in January 1974. The twin towers of the World Trade Center would be formally dedicated on 4 April: but even then they were not fully complete or occupied. When he sneaked into the north tower for the first time, the buildings were still under construction. He rode elevators and ran up staircases to evade security guards. It took him an hour to get to the roof. The next day he returned with his friend Jim Moore, a photographer, and took the same route to the 110th floor. Philippe explained what he had in mind. He showed Jim the drop. Jim just went white. ‘You’re insane,’ he whispered.
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