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This Happened

This Happened — August 7: World Trade Center Tightrope Walk

Philippe Petit, a French high-wire artist, performed a daring tightrope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on this day in 1974.

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How high were the twin towers and how long was the tightrope walk?

The twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were approximately 1,350 feet (411 meters) tall. Philippe Petit's tightrope walk was about 1,368 feet (417 meters) long, stretched between the rooftops of the two buildings.

How did Philippe Petit manage to perform the tightrope walk?

Philippe Petit and his team secretly entered the World Trade Center towers the night before the walk and set up the equipment needed for the tightrope walk. On the morning of the performance, Petit stepped onto the wire and, with a balancing pole, completed his walk, mesmerizing the crowd below.

Were there any legal implications for Philippe Petit's stunt?

Philippe Petit's unauthorized tightrope walk was illegal. After completing his performance, he was arrested and faced charges related to trespassing and public endangerment. However, his act also captivated the public's imagination and drew international attention.

What was the public reaction to Philippe Petit's tightrope walk?

Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the twin towers received widespread media coverage and garnered public fascination. It was seen as an extraordinary feat of daring and skill. Many were captivated by the audacity and artistry of the performance, considering it a symbol of human achievement and the triumph of the human spirit.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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