Philippe Petit is a Parisian, who in 1971 staged a walk between the Notre Dame Cathedral steeples on a tightrope. He travelled to New York in 1974 in order to do some street performing. When he saw the Twin Towers, he decided to repeat his tightrope act and attempt to walk between the two towers which were still being constructed. Late one night in August 1974 Petit, disguised as a construction worker, put his equipment in a crate and got into the lift of the South tower with a friend. Two other friends got into the North tower. The towers were 1,430 feet tall (.25 of a mile)! The two friends in the North tower fired across to the South an arrow attached to which was a rope. The rope didn’t make it across, landing some way below its target. Petit climbed down to collect the rope, brought it back up and secured it to the South tower. Because they had taken so long to secure the ropes, Petit didn’t start his tightrope walk until the crack of dawn.
A passerby coming off the subway noticed Petit walking across the gap between the towers and shouted to people in the street, who gathered to watch. News of the escapade travelled quickly to the Police who charged up onto the roof to arrest the performer. Petit walked across the rope many times before the Police assisted him down.
Petit was taken to Court where the Judge decided that instead of a prison sentence or fine, he should perform for free in Central Park for children.
We have been writing about the story in our literacy lessons and we will be creating booklets about Petit’s trick. We have thought about Petit’s aspirations and dreams which led him to undertake this dangerous stunt. We discussed whether we think he was inspirational – as he found a way to do what he wanted to do – or if he was foolish for performing such a dangerous stunt without a safety backup plan.
Here are some examples of our work so far (click to enlarge):
By Lucy, Courtney, Ryley, Thomas and Tia