On August 7, 1974, shortly after 7:15 a.m., Petit stepped off the South Tower and onto his 3/4″ 6×19 IWRC (independent wire rope core ) steel cable. The 24-year-old Petit made eight crossings between the mostly finished towers, a quarter mile above the sidewalks of Manhattan, in an event that lasted about 45 minutes. During that time, in addition to walking, he sat on the wire, gave knee salute and, while lying on the wire, spoke with a gull circling above his head.
Port Authority Police Department Sgt. Charles Daniels, who was dispatched to the roof to bring Petit down, later reported his experience:
I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’—because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’—approximately halfway between the two towers. 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.
Petit was warned by his friend on the South Tower that a police helicopter would come to pick him off the wire unless he got off. Rain had begun to fall, and Petit decided he had taken enough risks, so he decided to give himself up to the police waiting for him on the South Tower. He was arrested once he stepped off the wire. Provoked by his taunting behaviour while on the wire, police handcuffed him behind his back and roughly pushed him down a flight of stairs. This he later described as the most dangerous part of the stunt.
His audacious high wire performance made headlines around the world. When asked why he did the stunt, Petit would say “When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk.”
He crossed EIGHT TIMES and danced while doing it!!! You’re kidding right? Nope…
Very amazing. Beyond words amazing. Indelible WOW!
A true tribute.
Man on Wire is an Academy Award-winning 2008 documentary film directed by James Marsh. The film chronicles Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center. It is based on Philippe Petit’s book, To Reach the Clouds, recently released in paperback with the new title Man on Wire. The title of the movie is taken from the police report that led to the arrest (and later release) of Petit, whose performance had lasted for almost one hour. The film is crafted like a heist film, presenting rare footage of the preparations for the event and still photographs of the walk, alongside reenactments (with Paul McGill as the young Petit) and present-day interviews with the participants.
What in your life gets you to take risks and get to your edge of peak performance?
Philippe Petit (born August 13, 1949) is a French high wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers (WTC) in New York City on August 7, 1974. For his feat (that he referred to as “le coup” ), he used a 450-pound (200 kg) cable and a custom-made 26-foot (7.9 m) long, 55-pound (25 kg) balancing pole.
Tight-rope walker, unicyclist, magician and pantomime artist, Petit was also one of the earliest modern day street jugglers in Paris, having begun his career in 1968. He juggled and worked on a slack rope with regularity in Washington Square Park in New York City in the early 1970s. Other famous structures he has used for tightrope walks include Notre Dame de Paris, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Louisiana Superdome, the Hennepin County Government Center, and between the Palais de Chaillot and the Eiffel Tower.
The documentary film Man on Wire by UK director James Marsh, about Petit’s 1974 WTC performance, won both the World Cinema Jury and Audience awards at the Sundance Film Festival 2008. The film also won awards at the 2008 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, N.C. and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Petit is one of the Artists-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He currently lives in Woodstock, New York.
Learning to tight rope walk. Not as easy as Petit makes it look.