Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Soul of a City

Philippe Petit, the French acrobat who in 1974 walked across a tightrope between the twin towers, wasn’t on the payroll of the Port Authority, but in retrospect he probably should have been. At the time, the newly opened World Trade Center was shaping up as a huge mistake. Not only had the project cost far more than it was supposed to, but a city spiraling toward bankruptcy didn’t exactly need millions more square feet of office space. Worse still, the towers were out of scale and utterly unattractive — “the largest aluminum siding job in the history of the world,” as one critic put it. They were the ugly stepchild of New York’s skyscrapers, seemingly destined to be forever denied a place in the life and lore of the city. But in the span of a single summer morning, Petit gave the towers a history of their own. His stunt represented nothing less than a symbolic passing of the torch: in the remake of “King Kong” two years later, the furious, lovelorn gorilla takes his last stand not astride the Empire State Building but atop the World Trade Center...Read More...

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