You may be familiar with the French building climber (or builderer) known as Alain Robert – He’s climbed dozens of the world’s tallest buildings. In 2008, he set out to climb the ugly New York Times Building in Manhattan. It was not a difficult feat, at least for Alain, as the building facade resembles a big, wide ladder with rungs – One can just climb up the same way. On a hazy day back in 2008, Robert made this a political climb – he had a large banner which read: “Global warming kills more people than 9/11 every week.”
52 stories and nearly 800 feet tall
Renaldo Clarke was a 32 year-old man from Brooklyn and an amateur climber. To his credit, he had scaled some large bridges and other structures around the city, but usually under the cover of night, as cops will arrest someone for doing that. One time, Robert was actually plucked from the base of a building in Houston by an alert police officer. Word had spread that Robert was in town and cops were on the lookout for the tiny Frenchman. The city of Houston threw the book at him, the judge warning him to never come back.
As Renaldo went about his workday at his office, he heard about the climb being made by Robert. Clarke knew the NY Times Building to be an easy climb, and he had it in his sights before this. So he left work early, went to a nearby sporting goods store to grab a pair of last minute climbing shoes, and without a rosin bag or any other supplies – made his way over to the site, where he was quickly on his way.
From the NY Times:
“He was staring at me on the fourth floor,” said Kim Severson, a reporter for The Times’s Dining section, who saw Mr. Clarke pass by. “At first, I thought, ‘Is he a window washer?’ But he had no equipment. He turned and climbed up at a very rapid pace. He looked very focused. He looked very solemn and determined.”
Both men succeeded in their respective climbs and both were arrested. But as Robert is often not heavily charged due to his celebrity and infamy, the courts threw the book at Clarke, who they deemed was in need of psychiatric tests. Clarke had once climbed the Hearst Tower. He was in court all of the time after this NY Times Building stunt, and it ended up being more trouble than the reward. And like Robert, Clarke had a message to relay to the world as well: Malaria No More, as he had earlier in the day hastily stamped the letters on his white t-shirt. In an interview with the climbing web site, buildering.net, Clarke stated that he admired Robert but that his political message about global warming was a trendy one, while malaria is a real problem in poorer countries. He was right on, IMO. When Robert found out about Clarke’s climb on the way to jail in the cop car, he was upset: Clarke had stolen his thunder.
Now, let’s check out some pics:
Both men in custody
Robert talking to a cop, as if he is waiting on a bus or something
Clarke on his way up
and…the NY Times