Tightrope

This edition of “Art Wednesday” should be pretty fascinating. In 2001, I learned of this amazing feat. I thought the images were Photoshopped at first glance… I guess that everything IS possible.

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Romantic Calling
“They called me,” he later explained. “I didn’t choose them. Anything that is giant and manmade strikes me in an awesome way and calls me. I could secretly… put my wire… between the highest towers in the world. It was something that had to be done, and I couldn’t explain it… it was a calling of the romantic type.”

A Dream Is Born
Feigning a sneeze, Petit ripped the page from the newspaper and hastily left the office, prolonging his dental agony for several more days. “But what was it to have a toothache for another week,” he later recalled, “when what I had now in my chest was a dream?”

In Training
For the next six years, Petit patiently nurtured his dream, perfecting his skills as a high-wire artist and learning everything he could about the World Trade Center. In January 1974, now twenty-four years old, he flew to New York City for the first time in his life to put his daring plan into action. After months scouting the towers, including posing as a journalist to interview Port Authority executive Guy Tozzoli, he set to work on the evening of Tuesday, August 6. While one group of colleagues made its way up the north tower, Petit and two friends slipped up to the top of the south tower, carrying their concealed equipment, including a disassembled balancing pole, wire for rigging, 250 feet of one-inch braided steel cable, and a bow and arrow.

Stepping Into the Void
It took all night to complete the rigging, securing the steel cable a quarter of a mile in the sky across the 130-foot gap separating the towers. Wall Street was just beginning to come to life when, at a little past seven on the morning of August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit stepped onto the wire stretched out across the void.

Spellbinding
On the street below, people stopped in their tracks — first by the tens, then by the hundreds and thousands — staring up in wonder and disbelief at the tiny figure walking on air between the towers. Sgt. Charles Daniels of the Port Authority Police Department, dispatched to the roof to bring Petit down, looked on in helpless amazement. “I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’ — because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’ — approximately halfway between the two towers,” he later reported. “And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire… And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle… He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again… Unbelievable really…. [E]verybody was spellbound in the watching of it.”

“Sentenced”
To the delight of the Port Authority, the exploit made front-page news around the world, and Petit himself became an instant folk hero. Thanks to the immense outpouring of public adulation for his performance, all formal charges against him were dropped, and the 24 year old was “sentenced” to perform his high-wire act for a group of children in Central Park.

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Check out the page I got this information from. It is amazing. Thanks PBS.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/newyork/peopleevents/p_petit.html

  1. Jacquie
    Jun 29, 2005

    Joe,
    how inspirational…even more so after I realized that the man in the picture was NOT David Spangler…although I wouldn’t be surprised if he COULD have done that…EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

    Reply
  2. Joe
    Jun 30, 2005

    I think that I would wear a speedo if I did someting like that… Might as well.

    Reply