Ferris Wheel - History of Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel

The Ferris wheel was invented by George W.G. Ferris Jr. He built the first one for the 1893 World's Fair, in Chicago, Illinois. Ferris owned a company that tested iron and steel for railroads and bridges. He used his knowledge of structural steel to design a steel structure that would amaze the visitors to the fair.

The first Ferris wheel was supported by two 140-foot tall steel towers, with a 45-foot long axle between them. The wheel had a diameter of 250 feet, and had 36 wooden cars that could each hold up to 60 riders. It was lit up by 3000 of Thomas Edison's new light bulbs. The first Ferris wheel was a huge success, and was considered a marvel of engineering.

  • The organizers of the 1893 World's Fair wanted an attraction that could rival what was unveiled at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris - the Eiffel Tower. George Ferris responded to a challenge issued by the organizers, and promised that his wheel would "Out-Eiffel Eiffel".

  • After the fair, the original Ferris wheel was moved to Lincoln Park in Chicago, and later moved to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. It was demolished in 1906.

  • The term "Ferris wheel" has become the generic name for the many similar rides that have been built since 1893. Rides of this style are still popular at local fairs and amusement parks.

  • Currently, the world's largest Ferris wheel is in Las Vegas, Nevada. The "High Roller" was opened in March 2014, and has a diameter of 550 feet (167.6 meters).

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