Two window washers were trapped near the top of the 46-story Hearst Tower — the architectural marvel of midtown Manhattan and currently home to a lot of awe-struck fashion magazine editors — after their scaffolding broke in half Wednesday afternoon. Emergency responders worked from the roof and inside the building save their lives.
This is the stuff of nightmares. Something went wrong for the two high-flying men up in the New York skyline around 2:40 p.m. when their scaffolding wouldn't lock. It's designed to fold in the center, but it's also supposed to connect in the center to provide a stable platform for the window washers to operate. The men were stranded near the 45th floor — overlooking the multiple-story grand ballroom and executive suites of Hearst Magazines and the Hearst Corp., not to mention most of New York City — but it made for easier access by emergency responders than if they were on, say, the 17th floor where Seventeen magazine's staff works. Firefighters working inside the Hearst Tower, designed by Norman Foster to be one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the history of the Big Apple, cut a hole into one of the windows on the 44th floor to bring the stranded men inside safely. And, just to be sure, the window washers were attached to an extra safety harness lowered from the roof. Here is NBC's live video: