Frenchman Uses Spidey-Sense to scale Times building and fight global warming


photo by NYT's Sewell Chan

Never a dull moment in New York City or at the New York Times ... an avid building-scaler, with an obvious passion for the environment, attempted today to draw more attention to the issue of global warming, with a breathtaking, and illegal, act of daredevilry.

Around noon today, in New York City, a 46 year-old named Alain Robert, known to the world as "the French Spiderman," climbed 52 stories in an attempt to unfurl a green banner that was illegible from the sidewalk, but readable from the office buildings. The banner proclaimed: "Global warming kills more people than 9/11 every week." Robert was also wearing a t-shirt with his website on it.

For Robert, who has made a career out of urban climbing, having in the past climbed buildings such as the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and the Eiffel Tower and Montparnasse Tower both in his native Paris, the Times building itself, with it's ladder-like exterior, would probably have been an easy climb. He was doing it to make a statement--though TH questions whether making a comparison that implicitly downplays 9/11 was an effective way to do it in New York City. (Readers??!)

Robert was apprehended by police at the end of his climb as he reached the roof. As he was being led away in handcuffs, he told a Times reporter that he had chosen the NYT's headquarters because it is a green building, which he said was "a fantastic step." Robert continued to talk about global warming as he was led away. He said he believed that scaling a prominent news building would ensure more climate change coverage. The environmentally sensitive Times building is sheathed in distinctive rods which are intended to diffuse sunlight, but also allowed for easier climbing for Mr. Roberts. Who knew?