Hundreds of thousands of people turned out on the Canadian and US sides of Niagara to watch Wallenda, 33 — a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas circus troupe — attempt the stunt.
Wearing a bright red shirt hooked to a safety harness — a condition of the ABC TV network, which broadcast the stunt — he gingerly walked 1,800 feet — six football fields — from the US to Canada, 200 feet above the Niagara River, in less than half an hour, USA Today reported.
According to the LA Times, Wallenda was the first person to cross the falls on a tightrope since 21-year-old James Hardy did in 1896.
The difference, the Times wrote, was that Wallenda crossed the widest part of the gorge and much closer to the falls themselves, encountering icy spray and strong winds.
The broadcast showed the wire swaying and dripping with water, and despite his unhesitating performance (he "made it look easy," the Times wrote), Wallenda later admitted the crossing wasn't straightforward.
"That mist was thick. It was hard to see at times," he said. "The wind was wild. It'd come at me one way and hit me from the front, and hit me from the back."
Even while out on the wire, he'd reportedly said: "I'm drained. … My hands are going numb. I feel like I'm getting weak.''
The National Times quoted him as saying the hardest part was keeping his bearings. "If I looked down at the cable, there was water moving everywhere, if I looked up, there was heavy mist blowing in my face."
According to the LA Times, Wallenda was wearing the shoes specially made by his mother to provide extra grip on the wet wire
And he said the first thing he did after the dismounting was call his grandmother to let her know he was fine.
Wallenda already holds the Guinness records for the longest and highest tightrope crossing by bicycle.