6/21 – This Day In History – The Ferris Wheel Introduced 1893

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  • June 21, 1893 the Ferris Wheel was introduced at the
  • World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL.

When George Washington Gale Ferris heard about the Chicago, Illinois World’s Columbian Exposition scheduled for 1893, he went to Chicago to try his hand at the challenge of creating a monument that would surpass the Eiffel Tower of Paris.

Ferris set about to create his namesake wheel, something he felt would “Out-Eiffel Eiffel.” Expo directors feared for the safety of people that would ride the giant wheel, but Ferris managed to push those fears aside and build his creation.

Not your run of the mill carnival ride, this mighty wheel needed investors to cough up $400,000 to have it built (a lot of money in those days!). This giant wheel was 264 feet tall (taller than any other exhibit) and had 36 cars, each with 40 revolving chairs that could hold up to 60 people.

Total capacity of the wheel at one time was 2160 passengers! About 38,000 people a day rode the Ferris Wheel, each ride lasting 20 minutes. The non-stop part of the ride was 9 minutes, with the other 11 minutes taken by loading and unloading passengers.

The wheel stood past the end of the Exposition, and was demolished in 1906 after about 2.5 million people had ridden on it. A ticket to ride the mechanical marvel cost 50 cents. Show organizers (allegedly) cheated Ferris out of his share of the profits, and he spent the next couple years in court trying to get his money.

The immense ride was dismantled and moved to Lincoln Park, Chicago after the Exposition, and then taken apart and rebuilt for the 1904 St. Louis (Missouri) World’s Fair. It was there that it was dismantled for the last time in 1906.

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