360 Extra: Philippe Petit, Man on Wire

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Philippe Petit in his first World Trade Center crossing.

On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we wanted to revisit Kurt’s conversation with an artist who had a special relationship with the World Trade Center site.

It had all the glamour, conspiracy, and danger of a classic heist movie, but it was real — and the hero was wearing slippers. In the early hours of August 7, 1974, 24-year-old Philippe Petit and some friends snuck to the top of the Twin Towers and rigged a 140-foot steel cable between them.  And then, 1,350 feet above the ground and without a net, Petit walked, danced, and even lay down on the wire between them.  The feat transfixed the world.  It later became the subject of the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary “Man on Wire.”

Back in 2008, Kurt visited the site of the walk (at that point, Ground Zero) with Petit and director James Marsh. “I was a young wire-walker busy conquering an idea.” Petit explains, “I never thought of the consequences.”

(Originally aired: July 25, 2008)

Correction: In the audio for this segment, Kurt misstated the title of Steve Reich's composition reflecting on the September 11th terrorist attacks. It is "WTC 9/11" (not "WTC View," which is the name of play by Brian Sloan.)


Video: Philippe Petit walks between the Twin Towers (from "Man On Wire")