Alain Robert, nicknamed the French Spiderman, scaled all 52 stories of the New York Times’ spanking new building on Eighth Avenue in Times Square this morning. He climbed in observance of World Environment Day.
According to news reports and eyewitnesses, Robert had hitched himself up over a glass awning on West 41st Street and began climbing with nothing more than his bare hands and feet. (Designed by Renzo Piano, the horizontally-piped facade which allows maximum use of natural light also seems to function quite well as a ladder. Who’d have thought.) At one point, Robert stopped to unfurl a green fluorescent banner announcing: “Global Warming Kills More People Than a 9/11 Every Week.” He then continued climbing.
The NYPD received a 911 call at 11:30am, proceeded to the scene, and arrested Robert when he reached the roof at about 12:22pm. He had scaled the entire building in about 40 minutes.
The 45-year-old environmentalist claims to have climbed over 70 skyscrapers and monuments around the world as a call to action. Robert writes on his website:
I have climbed in New York, as a peaceful way to create support for far greater and urgent action from world leaders on global warming. Emissions are still climbing. So am I…
World leaders meet again next month at the G8 conference in Japan. YOU can help make sure they get the message…
Some are calling Robert insane. And his Spiderman strategy may already be inspiring copycats. This evening, NYT reports that a second person climbed the very same building on the southwestern corner facing Port Authority Bus Terminal on West 40th Street. He was arrested at 6:38pm when he reached the roof.
I suppose the city just got itself another tourist attraction.
(Seriously: In 2007 Robert was deported from China for illegally climbing its tallest building. Officials later invited him back to legitimately climb a mountain as a tourist attraction.)