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Rewind Chicago: Dancing On A Plank, About 200 Feet Above The Street

(Credit: YouTube/British Pathe)

(Credit: YouTube/British Pathe)

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — They didn’t have the Willis Tower “Ledge” in the 1930s.

Instead, a 10-inch wide plank attached to a 19th floor window would have to do.

In this old British Pathe newsreel from 1938, a couple walks out of the window and begins a death-defying stunt downtown.

“From below they are just specks against the sky,” the narrator observes.

As the couple begins to choreograph “The Big Apple,” a dance that was all the rage in the late 1930s, the narrator muses: “If you drop your partner doing the ‘Big Apple,’ you are rotten to the core.”

Clearly the stunt was planned well in advance.

The 30-second clip is shot using three camera angles: one from the street, one from the roof and another from an adjacent window.

At the time, the tallest building in the city was the Chicago Board of Trade.

It was built in 1930, and rose 44 floors and 605 feet from street level.

Rewind Chicago is an occasional series on Chicago’s past in pictures. John Dodge is Executive Producer of cbschicago.com