Spectacle, legacy, showmanship propelling Wallenda high-wire walk between Chicago skyscrapers

Daredevil tightrope walker Nik Wallenda said Wednesday that he chose Chicago for his next feat partly because of its reputation for being windy. Never mind that many historians believe the nickname, the Windy City, was coined because of blowhard politicians.

The chance to tread between buildings 50 stories above the city and over the Chicago River — amid glittering lights and on live television aired in 220 countries — was just the kind of encore he was looking for, Wallenda said Wednesday, one day after announcing his Nov. 2 feat that will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

He plans to traverse between one of the city's Marina Towers, twin corncob-shaped buildings on the north side of the river, to the 635-foot-tall Leo Burnett Building, without a harness or net. It will be the second-highest walk of his career, after the Little Colorado River Gorge, near the Grand Canyon, and will be done at a 15-degree incline, steeper than any previous walk. Wallenda will then will cross the river at ground level and make a second tightrope walk between Marina Towers.

Wallenda said weather always is his biggest challenge, and there's a good possibility that the city actually will be windy in November.

So starting in October, he'll practice several hours a day, six days a week at his training camp in Sarasota, Florida, including with wind machines that can be cranked up to 120 mph — though he won't attempt the actual feat if winds are over 50 mph.