Philippe Petit Walks 1,000 Feet Along Steel CableNICOLAS B. TATRO , Associated Press
May. 18, 1987 12:31 PM ET
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Daredevil Philippe Petit completed his longest ever high wire walk today, inching 1,000 feet along a 200-foot-high steel cable between Jerusalem's Arab and Jewish sectors and releasing a white dove of peace.
Wearing a colorful jester costume, the 37-year-old Petit released the dove from a blue silk purse. He later lay on the cable and at one point kicked off his slippers and continued barefoot.
At Petit's insistence, he walked without safety nets or any precautions other than the long balance pole he carried.
Strains of classical music, performed by an Israeli orchestra, accompanied Petit on his walk before thousands of spectators crowded into Hinnom Valley.
Petit's 15-minute feat, promoted by city as a ''bridge of peace,'' was carried live on Israel television, with commentators speaking in both Hebrew and Arabic.
The walk opened the Jerusalem Festival, a four-week cultural event with music, theater and dance as well as artists from 15 countries.
Before the walk, Petit said he was inspired by the historical setting and the symbolism of trying to unite the predominantly Jewish western part of the city with the mostly Arab eastern sector that was captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War.
''To me the project is the most interesting of my life because of the symbolism of the location. It is linking the west to the east, the Arab to the Jewish quarters, the new city to the old city,'' he said.
Petit's manager, Kathy O'Donnell of New York City, said the planned feat would cover the longest distance Petit had walked on a wire in his 20-year career, in which he has given more than 40 such performances. ''It's not his highest, but it is his longest walk,'' she said.
Petit's highest walk was a 1973 stroll between the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center, more than one mile above the ground. That walk gained him an international reputation.