NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Aerialist Nik Wallenda drew awe Sunday night as he successfully walked across the Grand Canyon without a harness, and now his sights are set on two of the most iconic buildings in New York City.
As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, Wallenda, 34, exercised extreme balance and focus Sunday night as the world watched him complete the daring stunt in a T-shirt and jeans. He walked a quarter of a mile across the Grand Canyon on a two-inch wire, as high in the air as the Empire State Building.
Last June, Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls, and now, he wants to walk from the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building – a distance of 4,000 feet. That is three times the length of the stunt Sunday night, but first, the city would have to approve it.
“I enjoy not just walking the wire, but I enjoy the challenges of getting the proper permissions,” Wallenda said.
But will the city grant those “proper permissions?” No, they will not, said police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“It’s dangerous to cross the Grand Canyon, and obviously, there’s water at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Here, we have thousands of New Yorkers,” Kelly said.
And wire walking instructor Bobby Hedglin-Taylor at Streb Lab for Action Mechanics in Brooklyn said Wallenda’s stunts require much more than a safety net.
“Any kind of physical activity like tight rope, your body has to be completely awake and completely aware,” he said. “It requires absolute concentration.”
High-wire students have been attempted on New York City skyscrapers before.
Back in 1974, French high-wire artist Philippe Petit walked on a high wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center without permission, and ended up getting arrested once he stepped off the wire onto the South Tower. The stunt was the subject of the Academy Award-winning 2008 documentary, “Man on Wire.”
But Wallenda said without the city’s blessing, he will not be going ahead with his stunt.
Nik Wallenda is the seventh generation of the Flying Wallendas, who first appeared with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in 1928.
Family patriarch Karl Wallenda – Nik Wallenda’s great grandfather – fell to his death in 1978 during a promotional high-wire walk between the towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico.
Other Wallenda family members have also fallen and died, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
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