The man who climbed buildings in New York City for publicity stunts
Maybe one of the most recognisable photographs of the Twentieth Century was taken during the construction of the Rockefeller Center in New York in 1932. It portrays eleven construction workers enjoying their lunch break 840 feet above the streets of Manhattan.
I guess those guys must have been pretty confident that the iron girder was strong enough to support them before munching on their cheese sandwiches. We can spend our lives precariously balancing on foundations that are less than secure. Jesus spoke a great deal about where people put their trust and the need to have God at the centre of our lives.
I heard a story once about guy they called the ‘Human Fly’ his real name was Harry and he climbed high buildings. It all started small but grew into a big deal and he became well known around New York. His big break came in the shape of a letter from an insurance company who were opening a new head office in Manhattan.
He was invited to climb the building as a publicity stunt for a fee of $25,000. The building was a 95 floor skyscraper and taller by a considerable margin than any building he had previously attempted to climb but he was a risk taker and there was really only ever going to be one answer. Harry’s team made the call, the contract was signed and the date was set.
He arrived at the foot of the building where the NYPD had cordoned off the street because of the volume of people who’d turned out to witness the climb. After the usual safety checks Harry set foot on the first ledge of the building and then worked his way up floor by floor, higher and higher into the sky.
After 12 hours of solid climbing as he was close to the roof and was heard to say through the intercom “I’m in trouble” Everyone began to panic, What’s happened? What’s gone wrong? Basically he hadn’t done his homework and there was a 1m collar wrapped around the top of the building to make it look attractive from the air.
Stranded 300m up with $25,000 and his life hanging in the balance he told his manager “I can see a crack in the wall. I'm going to push my legs out and up, get my fingers inside the crack and get on the roof” He went for it, he missed it and he fell to his death onto the street below.
In the days that followed the horrible accident, a post-mortem was carried out and something strange came to light. On opening his fingers they found something across his right palm. It was the fragments of a spider’s web. The investigators concluded that as the sun was setting on the building and with tremendous fatigue in his body, what Harry thought was a crack in the concrete was the spider’s web glistening in the sun.
The story of a man who rolled the dice and took a huge gamble on what he believed he had seen, the tragic error of judgment was fatal. Many years ago now I had to face the reality that my life was built on dodgy foundations and my trust was in all the wrong places.
I wonder what your trust is in today, is it in something real or is it based on an illusion? You can trust your life to the God who put you together and has a plan for your life. He will hold you up when the things of this world slip through your fingers. This prayer will help you do that.
Father God, I believe that you are the architect of life and you designed me for purpose and relationship with you. I turn away from a life built on poor foundations and misguided information without the maker’s instructions. Please reveal yourself to me today. Amen