"Fly Man" Harry Gardiner, who conquered 700 skyscrapers without insuranceBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/fly-man-harry-gardiner-who-conquered-700-skyscrapers-without-insurance
When skyscrapers began to be built in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, suicides were the first to master them. After them, the tricksters drew attention to the huge buildings. These guys had to climb up the sheer wall at all costs. In their behavior, they differed little from suicides and very often ended their lives in the same way. Although there were exceptions, such as Harry Gardiner. For his incredible talent to climb walls, this dodger was nicknamed "the fly man".
At first, extreme climbers climbed skyscrapers on a bet to tickle the nerves or out of vanity. Then they started paying for this madness. During the Great Depression, the "fly people" were already advertising something — a movie, a hair loss remedy, a bank and, of course, insurance companies. It was a dangerous but sure way to earn money in times of catastrophic unemployment.
One of the first conquerors of skyscrapers was Harry Gardiner. He climbed his first multi-storey building back in 1905. Many believe that this guy was the first "fly man" in the world, but it is difficult to confirm or deny. We can only say for sure that Gardiner was the first to monetize his dangerous occupation and turned it into a show for thousands of viewers.
Harry Gardiner climbed 700 buildings in various US cities from 1905 to 1926. He did it not just without insurance, but also without using special clothes. Usually, the "fly man" performed his dizzying numbers in ordinary street suits and the simplest shoes.
Gadiner's performances attracted huge crowds of spectators. In December 1916, 30 thousand onlookers watched his ascent to the Omaha World Herald skyscraper. The same number watched Harry's ascent to the Terre Haute Indiana building with bated breath, and 22 thousand gathered under the walls of an office tower in Denver.
But the apotheosis of the "fly man" career was the conquest of the 14-storey Majestic Building in Detroit. Then 150 thousand citizens poured out onto the streets, wanting to see the bravest guy in the USA with their own eyes. Gardiner made his ascents effortlessly. He made the audience gasp with risky tricks. For example, he could demonstrate hanging on the ledge, holding on with one hand.
Gardiner was well aware that his income was directly proportional to popularity and never avoided journalists. Once he described his dangerous occupation as follows:
Outwardly, Harry Gardiner did not look like Superman or even like a physically developed person. Moreover, the "fly man" was not young. The Logan Banner newspaper from Virginia described him as "a 57-year-old man with a boyish appearance." The hero of the concrete jungle disappeared as suddenly as he appeared. In the late 20s, most US states passed laws prohibiting climbing buildings without insurance. After that, Gardiner disappeared from the field of view of fans and journalists.
It was said that the "fly man" went to Europe to amaze the Old World with his gift. But no one has heard of the performances of the American trickster overseas, so this hypothesis remains controversial.
No one knows exactly how Gardiner's life turned out in a foreign land, but it is believed that the brave American died in 1933 in Paris.
The body of an elderly, poorly dressed man was found at the foot of the Eiffel Tower by Parisians taking a morning walk. According to the description, the deceased was very similar to Harry Gardener, but there was no one to identify the body for sure. Yes, the deceased was lying near the tower, but he did not die because of a fall from a height — he was simply beaten to death with fists and feet.
Today Gardiner has followers in different countries of the world. One of the most famous is the Frenchman Alain Robert, who travels the world and conquers the tallest buildings of the capitals.