A New Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheels and Chicago

Chicago is getting another Ferris wheel! Right now construction is underway of a bigger, better wheel for Navy Pier. According to the Navy Pier Web site, “Navy Pier, Inc. conducted a thorough 6-month worldwide search for a wheel that would best meet the unique structural and operational requirements of the Pier. Working alongside engineers from Thornton Tomasetti, a new model was selected and purchased — the DW60 — from Dutch Wheels, the Netherlands-based company that built the Pier’s current wheel. Considered the world’s top designer and manufacturer of Ferris wheels, Pier leadership was impressed with the company’s exemplary safety record and commitment to excellence.”

The new Ferris wheel is 196 ft. tall and will have 42 gondolas. Compare that to the previous one that opened in 1995. It was 147 feet high and had 40 gondolas

But how did these compare to the original Ferris wheel that was built on the Midway at the World’s Columbian Exposition of1893? That crowd pleaser was designed by a Pittsburg engineer named George Ferris. Believe it or not, the original wheel was a whopping 250 feet tall. One of the goals was to produce an attraction in Chicago that was bigger (and better?) than the Eiffel Tower build for the last world exposition in Paris. It had 36 wooden cars that held 60 people. Each 5 cent ride was two revolutions. The Ferris wheel proved to be a very successful money maker for the Fair.

Bernard C. Turner


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