When George W. Ferris constructed the world’s first Ferris wheel for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, he started a trend. At a height of 264 feet, it was an imposing sight at the world’s fair and attracted lots of attention and passengers. The original Ferris wheel was destroyed in 1906, but thousands of similar wheels have been erected through the years.
The Ferris wheel has experienced sleek steel, LED-striped makeover in the past decade. Its popularity reached a whole new high this decade with observation wheels popping up all over the world. Self-stabilizing enclosed cabins, A-frame axles, and unobstructed views defined giant observation wheels for years. But, as smaller wheels borrow features from the big guys, the line between giant observation wheels and traditional Ferris wheels is quickly blurring.
An observation wheel is a structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with multiple passenger-carrying components (referred to as passenger cars, cabins, or gondolas) attached to the rim in such a way that as the wheel turns, they are kept upright, usually by gravity. Currently, the four tallest observation wheels are; the 550-foot High Roller in Las Vegas, the 541-foot Singapore Flyer in Singapore, the 443-foot London Eye in London, and the 394-foot Melbourne Star in Melbourne. These are also the only four observation wheels with motorized capsules. In the near future, these wheels will be surpassed by the New York Wheel in New York City. If this wheel is completed it will be 625 feet tall.