Henri LaMothe

History, People

Henri LaMothe, Flatiron Building, daredevil diver

Photo of 1974 jump via Daily News

Picture this: You walk by the Flatiron Building, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire city, and see a man positioning himself to jump off. Today, you’d call 911 without hesitation, but 50 years ago it was annual spectacle.

Ephemeral New York uncovered the story of Henri LaMothe, the “diving daredevil” who performed a stunt around the country where he did his “flying squirrel” dive from 40 feet above ground into a collapsible plastic pool with only four feet of water. On his birthday on April 2, 1954, he climbed to the 40-foot mark on the Flatiron Building and did his signature jump. For the next 20 years, he performed the feat annually on his birthday, decreasing the water level each year. On his 70th birthday in 1974, he dove into a pool filled with merely one foot of water, and many say when he stood up, his back was still dry thanks to his famous belly flop.

Find out more about this daredevil

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