In the early 70s, occasional walkers of New York’s Washington Square Park had the opportunity to enjoy the anonimous show of a French juggler and tight-rope walker called Philippe Petit. A brave or a mad man, a reckless artist or a criminal. Or all this together.
On August the 7th, 1974, at 07:15 a.m. Philippe Petit commited the “artistic crime of the century”: he crossed the 140 feet distance between the Twin Towers of New York walking on a wire, at a height of 1.368 feet.
Petit stayed for 45 minutes on the wire. During this time, he walked the distance between the Towers, still unfinished, eight times, he sat and even spoke with a gull flying above his head. When it started raining, he thought that he had tempted God long enough and gave himself up to the police officers that awaited for him on top of the South Tower. He was arrested as soon as he stepped off the wire. But his daring walk made headlines around the world. The press coverage and the possitive public reaction resulted in all charges dropped off. However, he was sentenced to perform a show for New York children, a show he transformed in another risky exercise, walking high-wire over the Belvedere Lake (nowdays Turtle Pond) in Central Park. He also gained a lifetime pass for the Twin Towers Observation Deck.
A year before, he had performed a similar stunt over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And his first high-wire adventure had taken place in France, when he crossed the gap between the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris.
From the ground, 140 feet down, the wire between the Twin Towers was imperceptible: what the people saw was an amazing and incredible show: a man walking on the air.
Whe asked why he had done it, Philippe Petit answered: “When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see towers, I walk”.