Chicago Ferris Wheel - Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Chicago Ferris Wheel

In Chicago, the first ferris wheel, Ferris wheel or round the world was invented and built, known worldwide simply as: The Chicago wheel.

In this article you will find answers to all your questions about the Chicago wheel and you will also be able to learn about the Centennial Wheel, taller, bigger, faster and more fun than all the previous ones.

History of the Chicago Wheel

As part of the 1893 World's Fair, a gigantic Ferris wheel called the "Ferris Wheel" was inaugurated in Chicago, in honor of George Ferris, the engineer who built it.

Thus, Chicago was the first city to build one of these vertical revolving wheels that, equipped with cabins with seats, allowed passengers to rise above the surrounding landscape to see the panorama or simply have fun.

As it happened with other of the many inventions made in Chicago, the idea spread throughout the world and this type of wheels became a central element of fairs and amusement parks. Even today, in some places, the terms "Chicago wheel" or "Ferris wheel" are still used in reference to this type of structure. However, the most popular names are "around the world", "ferris wheel", "giant wheel" or "ferris wheel", this being one of the most used.

Chicago 's first Ferris wheel ran for a very short time, then was dismantled, sold, and finally dynamited in 1906. Decades later, Navy Pier built a new wheel that ran inside the ride from 1995 to 2015. It is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2016. The third version of the Ferris Wheel, currently in a state of construction, is now in operation.

The Invention of the Wheel: The Ferris Wheel – Chicago World's Fair of 1893

Chicago was looking for an attraction that could become the icon of the Universal Exposition that was to be held in Chicago in 1893. A few years before the Paris Exposition had presented the Eiffel Tower, with which it was difficult to compete, so the organizers were looking for something original and unique.

Finally, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., a 33-year-old engineer, brought up the idea of making a huge rotating steel wheel with cabins to transport the public. The idea of a wheel that would carry people higher than the Statue of Liberty caught on, and he received support from Daniel Burnham, one of the architects designing the exhibition.

The Ferris-designed wheel was supported by two 43-meter-tall steel supports. The central axis of the wheel was almost 14 meters long and was a piece of steel of a size never before forged. Putting together the Ferris wheel was like putting together a puzzle of more than 100,000 pieces.

Inaugurated on June 21, 1893, it was the great attraction of the fair, just as the Eiffel Tower had been in the similar exhibition held four years earlier in Paris. A complete success, a unique experience for which, during the following 19 weeks, more than 1.4 million people paid the 50-cent admission fee, partly recovering the general costs of the exhibition.

The Ferris Wheel had a height of more than 80 meters and had 36 wooden waffles with a capacity for 60 people each, which allowed it to transport up to 2,160 people simultaneously.

Unlike today's wheels, each turn on the Ferris Wheel lasted about 20 minutes (some sources say 4 turns per hour) and the wheel was so popular that it was used for wedding parties and mobile banquets.

Climbing the tower allowed you to enjoy an aerial panoramic view that few had seen before, including the locals. "Spinning through a vast orbit inside a bird cage was an indescribable sensation," wrote Roberto Graves, a journalist at the time.

The wheel was dismantled in 1894, after the World's Fair, but returned to work in 1895 in a small amusement park located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood (at the corner of Clark Avenue and Wrightwood Street). Then, it was reassembled for the 1904 Saint Louis, Missouri World's Fair.

Finally, the structure was definitively disassembled and the materials were dynamited on May 11, 1906 to be sold as scrap for $1,800.

The 1995 Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

In 1994, Navy Pier began a renovation project, incorporating new rides and a contemporary design. In this framework, on July 1, 1995, a new Ferris Wheel was inaugurated, more modest in height than the original, but always inspired by the famous Ferris wheel of the Universal Exposition of 1893. Like its predecessor, it quickly became one of the icons of the park and became as identifiable as the Hancock Towers, the Willis Towers or the structures of the Millennium Park.

This second Chicago Wheel was 43 meters high, still offering visitors an impressive view of the city's skyline as well as Lake Michigan. People of all ages were drawn to the magnificent structure. A tour of Navy Pier didn't seem complete without getting on the Ferris Wheel.

The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel operated for nearly 20 years transporting a total of nearly 16 million people. Its last turn was on Sunday, September 27, 2015 and the next day, it began to be dismantled to make room for the installation of the new structure that began operating in 2016: La Rueda del Centenario.

The New Chicago Wheel – The 2016 Centennial Wheel

In 2016, as part of the Navy Pier centennial celebrations, an ambitious renovation project for the Chicago Wheel was carried out with a million-dollar investment. In this framework, a new Ferris wheel was installed, a Ferris Wheel for the third millennium, which was inaugurated in May of that year.

The new Chicago Wheel is now nearly 200 feet tall and has 40 gondolas that hold 8 adults and 2 children each. The structure can carry a maximum of 414 passengers simultaneously.

The gondolas of the new Chicago Wheel are equipped with individual seats and video screens that show interesting facts about the city. gondolas. Previously red, they are now blue, the signature color of Navy Pier.