Today Marks the 44th Anniversary of Philippe Petit's High-Wire Walk

Today Marks the 44th Anniversary of Philippe Petit's High-Wire Walk

Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between the Twin Towers. AP Photo/Alan Welner.

During the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 1974, 24-year-old French high-wire artist Philippe Petit took his position at 1,350 feet above ground on the edge of the South Tower. High above the streets of New York, Petit began the 131-foot walk between the Twin Towers with no net.

Six years prior, Petit had started planning “le coup,” which is what he called the unauthorized performance in the sky. He spent the ensuing years learning everything he could about the buildings and their construction. “If I see two towers, I have to walk,” said Petit. “Anything that is giant and manmade strikes me in an awesome way and calls me.”

Petit didn’t just walk; he performed for the crowd of thousands that gathered as he walked back and forth for 45 minutes, laid down, saluted the sky and waved hello to birds in flight. Called the “artistic crime of the century,” Petit was arrested after his performance, but the charges were dropped in exchange of a free kids show in Central Park.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff