August 7, 1974 – Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, on the morning of August 7, 1974 as well as his high wire walk between the towers of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, 1971. For his unauthorized feat 417 metres (1,368 feet) above the ground – which he referred to as “le coup” – he rigged a 200-kilogram (440-pound) cable and used a custom-made 8-metre (30-foot) long, 25-kilogram (55-pound) balancing pole. He performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire. The following week, he celebrated his 25th birthday. All charges were dismissed in exchange for him doing a performance in Central Park for children.
Philippe Petit is known for his work on The Walk (2015), Man on Wire (2008) and Mondo (1995).
While I attended the oldest Catholic High School in the United States, La Salle Academy, in the Bowery section of Manhattan, I was on the varsity track team. On our runs down to Battery Park (Southernmost tip of Manhattan), many times we would go right by the still being built World Trade Center complex. This area was known for the gusty and swirling winds coming off New York Harbor, I can only imagine what the winds were like being 1,368 feet up walking a high-wire. This is why when I heard of Philippe Petit doing this on August 7, 1974, I couldn’t believe it. Bravo Philippe Petit.
by Mark R. Elsis
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