Today in History: Blondin Crosses Niagara

| June 30, 2017


When we think of high wire artists, Philippe Petit comes vividly to mind, for he gained fame when he walked between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. But did you know that Petit re-enacted in 1986 the amazing crossing of the Niagara River by Charles Blondin?

On June 30, 1859, Jean-Francois Gravelet (aka Charles Blondin or the “Great Blondin”) crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope, the middle of which was some 190 about the gorge. Blondin’s daring act, or “ascension”, along the 1,100 foot cable took 23 minutes and was seen by some 5,000 spectators and led to a series of daring, theatrical performances, inspired by the circus, in other parts of the world. Appealing to the public taste for the morbid through daredevil stunts, Blonde performed even into his seventies, with his last one in Belfast, Ireland in 1896.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.


Read, The Daredevil of Niagara Falls, by Karen Abbott (, October 18th, 2011).

Watch these short You Tube videos:


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