George Willig

Last updated

George Willig (born June 11, 1949) (a.k.a. "The Human Fly" or "The Spiderman") is a mountain-climber from Queens, New York, United States, who climbed the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center on May 26, 1977, about 2½ years after tightrope walker Philippe Petit walked between the tops of the two towers.

Mountaineering Sport of mountain climbing

Mountaineering is the set of activities that involves ascending mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, skiing, and traversing via ferratas. Indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering are also considered mountaineering by some.

World Trade Center (1973–2001) complex of buildings in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States

The original World Trade Center was a large complex of seven buildings in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. It opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. At the time of their completion, the Twin Towers — the original 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet (417 m); and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet (415.1 m)—were the tallest buildings in the world. Other buildings in the complex included the Marriott World Trade Center, 4 WTC, 5 WTC, 6 WTC, and 7 WTC. The complex was located in New York City's Financial District and contained 13,400,000 square feet (1,240,000 m2) of office space.

Philippe Petit French high-wire artist

Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, 1971 as well as his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, on the morning of 7 August 1974. For his unauthorized feat 400 metres above the ground – which he referred to as "le coup" – he rigged a 200-kilogram (440-pound) cable and used a custom-made 8-metre (30-foot) long, 25-kilogram (55-pound) balancing pole. He performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire. The following week, he celebrated his 25th birthday. All charges were dismissed in exchange for him doing a performance in Central Park for children.

Contents

Life and climb

Before the stunt, Willig was a toymaker. At the time of the climb, 2 WTC was the third tallest building in the world, behind 1 WTC and the Sears Tower. It took Willig 3.5 hours to scale the tower. While the City of New York initially announced it would fine him $250,000 for "the inconvenience the stunt caused," [1] New York City Mayor Abraham Beame fined him just $1.10, one cent for each of the skyscraper's 110 stories.

Abraham Beame 104th New York City mayor

Abraham David Beame was the 104th Mayor of New York City, from 1974 to 1977. As mayor, he presided over the city during its fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, during which the city was almost forced to declare bankruptcy.

Willig visited the World Trade Center a year before the stunt and took measurements for the equipment he would need. He made special clamps that fit into the window washing tracks of the South Tower. The clamps he designed would lock into place when they were pulled down by his body weight. They would release when he decided to raise them. Once he built the equipment, he went to the World Trade Center 4 to 5 times at night to test the equipment. He began his climb at 6:30 a.m. that Thursday morning. As he was climbing, two police officers, one a suicide expert, were lowered in a window washing basket to try to get Willig to give up. Willig swung away from the officers so they could not grab him. Willig and the officers talked, and the suicide expert realized that Willig knew what he was doing and was not a threat. The officer passed him a pen and paper, and Willig signed it "Best Wishes to my co-ascender." Police helped him to the top of the tower, by pulling him through a tiny window hatch at 10:05 a.m. and he was arrested. Willig said he could hear the crowd cheering from ground level. His climb received plenty of attention because it took 3½ hours to complete, allowing news cameras and spectators to gather. The only significant problem Willig ran into was irregularities in window washing tracks. However, he was prepared for this because he brought a small hammer to fix the irregularities. He signed his name and the date on a piece of metal on the observation deck of the South Tower, which was still visible until the tower was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

The stunt paved the way for appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson , Good Morning America , The Merv Griffin Show , and ABC's Wide World of Sports . He also got jobs as a stuntman on The Six Million Dollar Man , Trauma Center , and Hollywood Beat .

<i>The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson</i> television series

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is an American talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise from October 1, 1962 through May 22, 1992.

<i>Good Morning America</i> American morning television show broadcast on ABC

Good Morning America (GMA) is an American morning television show that is broadcast on ABC. It debuted on November 3, 1975, and first expanded to weekends with the debut of a Sunday edition on January 3, 1993. The Sunday edition was canceled in 1999; weekend editions returned on both Saturdays and Sundays on September 4, 2004. The weekday program airs from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. in all U.S. time zones. The Saturday and Sunday editions are one hour long and are transmitted to ABC's stations live at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time, although stations in some markets air them at different times. Viewers in the Pacific Time Zone receive an updated feed with a specialized opening and updated live reports. A third hour of the weekday broadcast aired from 2007 to 2008, exclusively on ABC News Now.

The Merv Griffin Show is an American television talk show starring Merv Griffin. The series ran from October 1, 1962 to March 29, 1963 on NBC, May 1965 to August 15, 1969 in first-run syndication, from August 18, 1969 to February 11, 1972 at 11:30 PM ET weeknights on CBS and again in first-run syndication from February 14, 1972 to September 5, 1986.

In 1979, he published a book called Going It Alone ( ISBN   0-385-14726-0).

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

During the 1990s, Willig lived in California's San Fernando Valley, working as a remodeler of commercial buildings.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

San Fernando Valley large populated valley in Los Angeles County, California, USA

The San Fernando Valley is an urbanized valley in Los Angeles County, California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, defined by the mountains of the Transverse Ranges circling it. Home to 1.77 million people, it is north of the larger, more populous Los Angeles Basin.

After the 9/11 attacks that destroyed both towers of the World Trade Center, Mr. Willig publicly said he regretted climbing the tower, as his actions may have brought them to the attention of terrorists. But he later told CNN that was just an initial, emotional reaction and that he was still glad to have climbed the tower. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Rescue and recovery effort after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center Post-9/11 rescue operations

The local, state, federal and global reaction to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center was unprecedented. The equally unsurpassed events of that day elicited the largest response of local emergency and rescue personnel to assist in the evacuation of the two towers and also contributed to the largest loss of the same personnel when the towers collapsed. After the attacks, the media termed the World Trade Center site "Ground Zero", while rescue personnel referred to it as "the Pile".

World Trade Center site Grounds of the World Trade Center in New York City

The World Trade Center site, formerly referred to as "Ground Zero" or "the Pile" immediately after the September 11 attacks, is a 14.6-acre (5.9 ha) area in Lower Manhattan in New York City. The site is bounded by Vesey Street to the north, the West Side Highway to the west, Liberty Street to the south, and Church Street to the east. The Port Authority owns the site's land. The previous World Trade Center complex stood on the site until it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

Buildering

Buildering describes the act of climbing on the outside of buildings and other artificial structures. The word "buildering" sometimes misspelled bildering is a portmanteau, combining the word building with the climbing term bouldering. If done without ropes or protection far off the ground, buildering may be dangerous. It is often practiced outside legal bounds, and is thus mostly undertaken at night.

Dan Goodwin American climber

Daniel "Dan" Goodwin is an American climber best known for performing gymnastic-like flag maneuvers and one arm fly offs while free soloing difficult rock climbs on national TV and for scaling towering skyscrapers, including the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Center, the World Trade Center, the CN Tower, and the Telefónica Building in Santiago, Chile.

Harry Gardiner American urban climber

Harry H. Gardiner, better known as the Human Fly, was an American man famous for climbing buildings. He began climbing in 1905, and successfully climbed over 700 buildings in Europe and North America, usually wearing ordinary street clothes and using no special equipment. "One hundred and twenty of those who have sought to imitate me in this hazardous profession have fallen to death," Gardiner is quoted as saying in a 1905 article published in Muscle Builder. "There is no chance of 'rehearsing' your performance. Each new building is an unknown problem. If you do not guess the right answer, death awaits below, with a breath of up-rushing air, and arms of concrete." Former President Grover Cleveland reportedly nicknamed him "The Human Fly." When he visited Logan, West Virginia in January 1927, the Logan Banner described him as a "boyish-looking man of 57 years." Gardiner reportedly moved to Europe after New York enacted legislation forbidding anyone from climbing on the outside of buildings. Details surrounding his death are unknown, but a person matching his description was found beaten to death at the base of the Eiffel Tower in 1933.

William Rodriguez 9/11 survivor

William Rodríguez is a former janitor at the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001, attacks and was in the basement of the North Tower when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building. After the attacks he received several awards for heroism for helping in the evacuation of many survivors. The Birmingham Mail said about Rodriguez: "He bravely led firefighters up the stairs, unlocking doors as they climbed and helping hundreds of survivors" and The Lancashire Telegraph added: "He then went back into the building in a bid to rescue his friends at the top of the tower, on the 106th floor. But he kept finding others who needed his help as well."

One World Trade Center Main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City

One World Trade Center is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City. One WTC is the tallest building in the United States, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world. The supertall structure has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The new skyscraper stands on the northwest corner of the 16-acre (6.5 ha) World Trade Center site, on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center. The building is bounded by West Street to the west, Vesey Street to the north, Fulton Street to the south, and Washington Street to the east.

1998 Bank of America robbery

The 1998 Bank of America robbery was a robbery of $1.6 million in cash at the Bank of America in 1 World Trade Center, in New York City, on January 14, 1998.

Owen J. Quinn is an American man who was the first person to successfully parachute off one of the World Trade Center towers, on July 22, 1975.

4 World Trade Center Skyscraper in Manhattan, New York City

4 World Trade Center is a skyscraper that is part of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. It is located on the southeast corner of the 16-acre (6.5 ha) World Trade Center site, where the original nine-story 4 World Trade Center stood. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki was awarded the contract to design the 978-foot-tall (298 m) building. It houses the headquarters of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ).

Jim Moore is an American photographer who has documented the variety arts since the 1970s. His photographs helped Philippe Petit plan his tightrope-walking stunt between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 and were prominently featured in the Oscar-winning film Man on Wire.

Twin Towers 2 Proposed complex of buildings

The Twin Towers II was a proposed twin-towered skyscraper complex which would have been located at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan, New York City. The proposed complex would have replaced the former Twin Towers of the World Trade Center destroyed in the September 11 attacks, restoring the skyline of the city to its former state. The main design for the proposed complex would feature new landmark twin towers, nearly identical to the originals designed by Minoru Yamasaki, though it would feature 115 stories—5 floors taller than the originals, among other differences. Beside the towers, an above-ground memorial would have occupied the footprints of the original towers. The new site would also have featured three 12-story buildings, replacing the original 3, 4 and 5 World Trade Center. The complex was designed and developed by American architect Herbert Belton and American engineer Kenneth Gardner, and sponsored by Donald Trump.

<i>The Walk</i> (2015 film) 2015 film by Robert Zemeckis

The Walk is a 2015 American 3D biographical drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Christopher Browne and Zemeckis. It is based on the story of 24-year-old French high-wire artist Philippe Petit's walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz and Steve Valentine.

World Trade Center (2001–present) set of buildings built on the site of the former Word Trade Center site in New York City after 2001

The World Trade Center is a mostly completed complex of buildings in Lower Manhattan, New York City, U.S., replacing the original seven buildings on the same site that were destroyed in the September 11 attacks. The site is being rebuilt with up to six new skyscrapers, four of which have been completed; a memorial and museum to those killed in the attacks; the elevated Liberty Park adjacent to the site; and a transportation hub. The 104-story One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, is the lead building for the new complex.

Justin Casquejo is a free solo climber and stunt performer who has scaled several skyscrapers in Manhattan, New York City as well as a water tower in his hometown, Weehawken, New Jersey. He has been arrested, charged, and convicted for some of his activities. Others have been brought to light through his publication on social media, such as Instagram and YouTube.

References