on 7 August 1974 the French tightrope walker Philippe Petit accomplished his most famous and spectacular feat: he passed from one tower to another of the World Trade Center in New York (those destroyed in the attacks of 11 September 2001) walking on a cable suspended from several 400 meters high. Petit later wrote a book on that feat (Touching the clouds), from which in 2008 a documentary was made (Man on Wire) which won many awards, including an Oscar. In 2015, then, the director Robert Zemeckis (that of Back to the future and Forrest Gump) shot the film The Walk, which tells the story of Petit – played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt – and of the crossing of the Twin Towers.
Who is Philippe Petit
Philippe Petit was born into a petty bourgeois family from Nemours, a town south of Paris, on August 13, 1949. From the age of six he began learning magic tricks and prestidigitation, and a little later also juggling. Soon he began to perform on the streets in front of tourists.
The crossing of the Twin Towers
Petit had begun to think about it at the age of seventeen: in a dentist’s waiting room, he had seen the plans to build the towers in a magazine. At the end of 1973, Petit went to New York and started to prepare the company in every detail, as he did every time: each crossing was in fact preceded by a special training and by several inspections, and for each one a cable was studied that kept account of altitude, winds and slope. For the Twin Towers, in particular, Petit said he had designed everything in person, including the equipment he needed. He also rented a helicopter to take aerial photographs of the Towers and built a scale model of it.
What happened then?
· While the towers were still under construction, Petit began, with the help of his collaborators, to transport all the technical equipment to the top: he managed to do so by obtaining access permits and deceiving security with false documents and disguises (his collaborators pretended to be electricians, and Petit for a journalist from an architecture magazine who was to interview the workers).
At 7.15 am on August 7, 1974, Petit climbed the roof of one of the towers, 400 meters high, and went back and forth eight times on the steel cable more than 60 meters long, dressed in black and with a pole. To keep his balance he walked, lay down on the wire, knelt down and greeted the spectators-observers who in the meantime had begun to observe and applaud him. The police, who had rushed in the meantime, ordered him to stop, and when he decided to do so he was arrested. To the agents who arrested him, Petit said: “when I see three oranges, I juggle, when I see two towers, I want to go from one to the other.” Want to know more factual cases? Here we are with the best options now.