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Serial 'Rooftopper' Hit With Charges After Scaling Manhattan Skyscrapers

James McNally
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Facebook/ James McNally

LOWER MANHATTAN — James McNally, a photographer known for scaling some of the tallest buildings in the city, has been arrested for two of his highest climbs, DNAinfo has learned.

McNally, a so-called "rooftopper" who has been taking video and photos of his soaring climbs to the peaks of dozens of New York buildings for nearly two years — gaining nearly 30,000 followers on Instagram — has been hit with criminal charges in connection to his summit at a Lower Manhattan and a Midtown skyscraper, according to court documents.

"I'm not naive," McNally told DNAinfo New York. "I'm well aware that along with physical risks, there are other consequences — it's silly to think that you can trespass all the time and you won't get in trouble for it."

McNally, who is 34 and lives in Brooklyn, was arrested March 20 on charges of reckless endangerment and criminal trespass for climbing more than 1,000 feet to the top of Lower Manhattan skyscraper 70 Pine in September, according to court records.

Police said they identified McNally from a video he posted of his ascent to the top of the building, which is  being converted to upscale condos, under the name jamakiss on both YouTube and his own website.

The arrest came months after McNally was also arrested and charged for his summit of Midtown high-rise One57 last September, according to court records and sources.

McNally was arrested Jan. 16 and charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.


#meistershots X @jamakiss 5/5 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ "the infamous One57, high end, super tall, and took a good few tries. We dressed the part, aced the elevator, and got up with a few tricks and a lot of sweat. we propped a tall ladder into a roof hatch, climbed the glass cladding to the ridge and got probably the best rooftop view in nyc. not a recommended spot. this is 1004' feet up looking north over central park." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This concludes our takeover from @jamakiss. Thanks for letting us share your incredible photos @jamakiss. Happy new year everyone from the @meistershots team!

A photo posted by MeisterShots (@meistershots) on

McNally's video shows him and others getting into the 70 Pine St. building, heading to the very top of the art deco skyscraper, more than 1,000 feet up, and, eventually, hanging off the silver spire at top.


get this goon motherfucker to 10k 💪

A photo posted by 💘 (@jamakiss) on

McNally said the arrests haven't dampened his enthusiasm for pursuing his breathtaking, though illicit, photos.

"This has allowed me to see New York in this incredible and special way, and share that with people," McNally said. "I know someone else may say f--k this, I'm done, but that's not how feel."

The rooftopper movement has been around for several years, largely fueled by the rise of Instagram, McNally said.

But he said in recent months he's felt more scrutiny from police.

"They're following us around now more, anytime they can hassle us, they will," he said, suspecting they are "feeling more pressure from the building owners."

The daring climbs have concerned building owners and law enforcement amid a string of hazardous climbs including a 17-year-old, who climbed to the top of 460 Park, as well as a 20-year-old climber who fell to his death in December.

McNally says he won't curtail the scaling, but he feels like he's basically conquered all the tall buildings in New York City — aside from One World Trade and the Empire State Building.

McNally, who was released without bail, is due back in court on April 22 for both of his arrests.

Officials from 70 Pine and One57 did not immediately return request for comment.