nik wallenda

Daredevil Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk directly over Niagara Falls on Friday night. More than 100,000 people crowded onto the U.S.-Canadian border to watch him inch along a tightrope.

Wallenda's wire weighed seven tons and took hours to string across the falls with a helicopter. Crews held it in place with two construction cranes.

Wallenda is part of the famous "Flying Wallendas" circus family. Over seven generations, they've pulled off daring stunts all over the world.

Daniel Robison / WBFO

Niagara Falls, N.Y. sees Nik Wallenda’s Friday night wirewalk as its best chance in decades to revive tourism and spark economic development.

But measuring Wallenda’s long-term impact may be tough - assuming there’s an impact at all.

Niagara Falls has long been a magnet for daredevils, but strict laws have kept them away for more than a century. That's expected to change Friday, when circus performer Nik Wallenda will walk a two-inch-thick wire above the giant waterfall. It's an exception officials hope will rescue tourism — and the city's economy.

Daniel Robison / WBFO

Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda concludes his public practices Tuesday in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Over the last week, Wallenda has invited spectators to watch him prepare for his June 15 wirewalk over Horseshoe Falls.

But almost a month before the main event, Wallenda's presence is already inspiring an eclectic atmosphere in this hard scrabble city of 50,000.