I came across Philipe Petit’s name on Hypebeast today and what he did intrigued me so I did some digging to find out more about his feat. It’s some pretty interesting stuff. After the jump is an excerpt from Wiki and a video I found on youtube.
Petit was first inspired to attempt what he called his “le coup” on the Twin Towers while he sat in his dentist’s office in Paris in 1968. In a magazine, he came upon an article about the as-yet-unconstructed buildings, along with an illustration of the model. He became obsessed with the towers, collecting articles on them whenever possible.
The ‘artistic crime of the century’ took six years of planning, during which Petit learned everything he could about the buildings, taking into account such problems as the swaying of the towers because of wind, and how to rig the steel cable across the 140-foot (43 m) gap between the towers (at a height of 1,368 ft (417.0 m)). He traveled to New York on several occasions to make first-hand observations. Since the towers were still under construction, Philippe and NY-based photographer Jim Moore went up in a helicopter to make aerial photographs of the WTC.
Petit would sneak into the towers several times, hiding on the roof and other areas in the unfinished towers, in order to get a sense of what type of security measures were in place. Using his own observations and Moore’s photographs, Petit was able to make a scale model of the towers to help him design the rigging he needed to prepare for the wirewalk. He made fake identification cards for himself and his collaborators (claiming that they were contractors who were installing an electrified fence on the roof) to gain access to the towers. Prior to this, to make it easier to get into the buildings, Petit carefully observed the clothes worn by construction workers and the kinds of tools they carried. He also took note of the clothing of businessmen so that he could blend in with them when he tried to enter the buildings. He observed what time the workers arrived and left, so he could determine when he would have roof access. As the target date of his “coup” approached, he claimed to be a journalist with a French architecture magazine so that he could gain permission to interview the workers on the roof. The Port Authority allowed Petit to conduct the interviews, which he used as a pretext to make more observations. He was once caught by a police officer on the roof, and his hopes to do the high wire walk were dampened, but he eventually regained the confidence to proceed.