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Craziest NYC stunts in history every New Yorker should know


Thursday, September 24, 2015, 4:53 PM

AUG. 7, 1974 FILE PHOTOAlan Welner/AP

On Aug. 7, 1974 Philippe Petit, a French high-wire artist, walks across a tightrope suspended between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York.

“The Walk,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, premieres Saturday and showcases one of the most daring stunts ever performed in the city’s history.

The film takes a look at French aerialist Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974.

Read more about his amazing feat below — along with four other crazy stunts performed in the five boroughs.

Philippe Petit’s Twin Tower high-wire walk

French-born high-wire artist Petit successfully pulled off an unauthorized tightrope walk between the tops of the Twins Towers in August 1974.

The feat took years of planning, fake IDs to get past security to study the roof, and careful observation of construction and office worker attire in order to replicate it for himself and his team.

Slightly past 7 a.m. on Aug. 7, 1974, the 24-year-old Petit made his first walk across the 250-foot wire — which was 1,350 feet above the street.

He did not use a safety net or a harness.

Petit was the subject of the popular documentary “Man on Wire,” which debuted in 2008.

He was arrested after his stunt, but wasn’t prosecuted in exchange for promising a free performance to children in Central Park.

Seanna Sharpe

Also without a harness or safety net, aerial performer Sharpe climbed up 300 feet on the Williamsburg Bridge on July 11, 2011.

She performed an acrobatic routine, knowing she would eventually get arrested.

She claimed she attempted her act twice before under the cover of night.

“My goal is to face my fear and to inspire others to face their fears,” she told The Wall Street Journal.

“The first time I did it, I didn’t make it to the top I was so scared. The second time the adrenaline was running high.

Sharpe has worked for Cirque du Soleil, and performed at the Guggenheim as well as for Beyoncé.

The Flying Wallendas


The Wallendas performing in Madison Square Garden in New York on April 15, 1944.

After seeing a performance in Cuba, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailing Circus recruited the Wallenda family.

Their first performance to shoot them to fame was in 1928 at Madison Square Garden, where they received a 15-minute standing ovation for their signature performance of the seven-person chair pyramid without the use of a safety net.

In 1962, this feat went terribly wrong, resulting in two men falling to their deaths during a performance in Detroit.

The Wallenda families, now consisting of grandchildren and their respective families, are still performing today, and have continued the seven-person pyramid act over the years.

Harry Houdini stunts

Originally named Ehrich Weisz, Harry Houdini immigrated to the United States from Hungary with his family.

He became interested in magic at a young age, and made his stage name partly to honor his idol Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, a French magician.

Houdini’s magic career began with small tricks throughout New York City, such as escaping from handcuffs and jail cells. He gained popularity, and eventually started escaping from straitjackets.

In 1907, he escaped from a straitjacket within minutes while hanging from a crane over Broadway and W. 46th St.

In 1912, he performed the famous “Underwater Box Escape,” in the East River.

After being handcuffed and having his legs shackled, he was locked in a box and thrown into the water. He escaped in minutes, much to the surprise of a large crowd.

David Blaine electricity stunt

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiDavid Handschuh/New York Daily News

Magician David Blaine does a preview of his three day long “Electrified” performance at Pier 54 on West 14th street on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012.

For 72 straight hours in early October 2012, Magician David Blaine went without food or sleep while one million volts of electricity ran through his body.

He was wearing a chain-mail suit and a variety of Tesla electrical coils, which were controlled by audiences at the location of Pier 54 near W. 13th St., as well as remotely from four other cities: London, Beijing, Sydney and Tokyo.

“It’s like having your whole body surrounded by static electricity, the kind that makes your hair stand up on end,” he said.

“It doesn’t hurt, but it’s strange. I have no idea what 72 hours of exposure to these electromagnetic forces will do to the electrons in my cells and the neurons in my brain.”

His wish was to test his physical limitations and to motivate others to explore the science of electricity.


Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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