This Day In History: June 15

Changing the day will navigate the page to that given day in history. You can navigate days by using left and right arrows

On June 15, 2012, 33-year-old aerialist Nik Wallenda becomes the first person to walk across high wire stretched over Niagara Falls, which lie on the border between New York state and Ontario, Canada. More than 100,000 people gather at the falls and 10 million viewers watch on television.

Wallenda started around 10:15 p.m. from the American side and crossed some 200 feet in the air on a 2-inch-wide steel cable strung over Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three falls that make up Niagara Falls. He carried a 40-pound balance bar and wore elkskin-soled slippers made by his mother. In a concession to ABC television network, which aired the event, he was tethered to the tightrope. The mist was so thick that spectators from Canada were not able to see Wallenda for the first 10 minutes of his crossing. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Wallenda ran the final few steps to an uproar of applause.

Wallenda is a seventh-generation stuntman and member of the famous Flying Wallendas family of circus performers. The Wallenda family started performing in Germany in the 1780s, and brought their act to the U.S. in the 1920s. Delilah Wallenda performed wire-walking stunts up until she was six months pregnant with Nik, who made his professional debut as an aerialist at age 13. He went on to set a number of Guinness World Records, including the highest incline tightrope walk and the highest tightrope crossing on a bicycle. 

One year after traversing Niagara Falls, Wallenda became the first person to walk a high wire across the Grand Canyon. He made the quarter-mile crossing on a 2-inch-thick cable suspended 1,500 feet above the gorge without a safety harness. It was the highest walk of his career up to that point. 

Also on This Day in History June | 15