Man On Wire :: Philippe Petit -The man who walked lose between the World Trade Center (Twin Tower)

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Man On Wire Newly Build World Trade Center Twin Tower

Philippe Petit -The man who walked lose between the World Trade Center (Twin Tower)

Petit’s most famous work was his performance which he executed at the World Trade Center (Twin Towers) in Manhattan. It was called the “artistic crime of the century” and took six years of planning.

On Wednesday, 7 August 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. He walked the wire for 45 minutes, making eight crossings between the towers, a quarter mile above the sidewalks of Manhattan. In addition to walking, he sat on the wire, gave knee salutes and, while lying on the wire, spoke with a gull circling above his head.

As soon as Petit was observed by witnesses on the ground, the Port Authority Police Department dispatched officers to take him into custody. One of the officers, Sgt. Charles Daniels, 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….Everybody 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.”
Although movie cameras were on the roof during the walk, the person who was supposed to film the walk did not do so, apparently due to exhaustion from pulling the heavy cable tight after some of it had fallen, creating slack while the rigging was being set up.

In 2008 a British documentary film called “Man on Wire” about his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center was released.The British documentary film was directed by James Marsh.

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