Philippe Petit: High-Wire Walking Notre Dame And The World Trade Center

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
Left: Philippe Petit's 1971 stunt at Notre Dame de Paris, as dramatized in the 2015 film 'The Walk.' Right: a still from 'Man On Wire,' the 2008 documentary about Petit's 1974 World Trade Center walk. Source for both: IMDB

You've heard of the daredevil who walked a wire between the towers of New York's World Trade Center: Philippe Petit. But Notre Dame de Paris, the cathedral that caught fire in April 2019, was his first headline-making quest. In 1971, Petit stepped out on a wire between Notre Dame's two towers and strolled across, even pausing at the midpoint for a performance. Three years later, Petit took on the Twin Towers in NYC, a feat that was documented heavily at the time, and provided fodder for the 2008 documentary Man On Wire and the 2015 film The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt. As was his modus operandi, Petit had no permission for either stunt, and was technically engaging in a criminal act.