Looking for Sean McLachlan? He mostly hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog these days, but feel free to nose around this blog for some fun older posts!

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Thursday, 11 September 2008

A Different World Trade Center Memory

As everyone remembers the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it's good to remember that the World Trade Center was the site of an amazing and inspiring act, not just a horrible one. On August 7, 1974, tightrope walker Philippe Petit spent 45 minutes walking on a tightrope back and forth between the two towers. There was no net to save him from falling 1,368 feet to the concrete below, but Philippe didn't care. He had dreamed of doing this ever since he heard the towers were being built. He and his team posed as workmen to gain access to the towers, then in the middle of the night strung the wire from one tower to the other. As dawn broke, Petit put on a show for the crowds below, walking back and forth, turning around, standing on one leg, even lying down on the wire.

When he finally got off the wire police were waiting to arrest him, but this was a different era. He got charged with criminal trespass, not terrorism, and the judge told him that if he put on a free kid's show that all charges would be dropped. If someone tried something similar today, I can't picture anyone having such good humor about it.

Philip became a New York City icon. Even though it happened when I was four, I still vaguely remember seeing it on television. I couldn't look at the World Trade Center without imagining someone walking on a wire between them, and last night, to remember 9/11, my local theatre showed a documentary about Philippe titled Man on Wire. If you haven't seen it, please do. It will blow you away, and give you another image to remember the World Trade Center by other than its destruction.

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