Tag: jean francois gravelet

    Zavitz: Wirewalker Hardy amazed 19th century crowds in Niagara

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    James Hardy has a special place in the history of Niagara Falls.

    He was the final official participant in a 19th century phenomenon often referred to as the great age of Niagara tightrope artists — something that captured much of the world’s attention.

    That “age” began in 1859 when the innovative showman Jean Francois Gravelet, who used the stage name Blondin, demonstrated unbelievable skill and daring on a rope during a series of performances high over the Niagara River Gorge.

    Widely acclaimed, he set a precedent. Consequently, during the years following Blondin a number of other high-wire artists came here to present similar shows.

    Thirty-seven years after Blondin, it was Hardy’s turn.

    The Great Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope

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    On June 30 I posted about one of Blondin’s trips across the gorge. The Nashua Telegraph has some more detailed information (more than the blurb I put below):

    Dressed in pink tights and a yellow tunic, world-class funambulist Jean-Francois Gravelet (better known as The Great Blondin due to his fair hair) became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope today in 1859. This extraordinary feat took him all of five minutes.

    Today in History (June 30)

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    According to the Minneapolis – St. Paul Star Tribune, on this day in 1859…

    French acrobat Charles Blondin (born Jean Francois Gravelet) walked back and forth on a tightrope above the gorge of Niagara Falls as thousands of spectators watched.

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