The Ferris Wheel Phenomena
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The Ferris Wheel Phenomena

The Ferris wheel. The pleasure wheel. Ups and downs. george Washington Gale Ferris Jnr. World's Columbian Exposition. The Riesenrad. The Singapore Flyer. The London Eye. The Millenium Wheel. Mickey's fun Wheel. Cosmoclock 21. The Observation wheel. The Eccentric wheel.Ronald Bussink.

In 1615, Roman traveller Pietro delle Valle, wrote one of the world's first travel reviews, when he wrote an account about a ride on a pleasure wheel or ' ups and downs' as it was then called, whilst visiting Constantinople ( present day Istanbul) during the city's Ramadam festivities of that year.

This pleasure wheel consisted of chairs suspended from a wooden ring which were turned by hand by way of one or two men turning a crank on the side of the wheel's frame.

There have been several accounts of large wheels used as pleasure rides during the 17th century, particularly from Turkey and the Balkan countries, giving the impression that they originated in this part of the world. 

The world's first Ferris wheel, was designed and constructed by American engineer George Washington Gale Ferris Jnr ( 1859 - 1896) as the main landmark for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

The wheel stood 264 feet high and carried 36 cars each measuring 28 feet long, each one accommodating 60 people.

At that time the wheel was a great feat of engineering and technology of it's day, which became a world reknowned spectacle, viewed by thousands of visitors to the exposition.

A whole new era grew up around this wheel, with books, postcards and models depicting Ferris's brainchild sold around the world, culminating in a veritable Ferris Wheel phenomena. 

Since that first wheel, this pleasure ride has become the world's biggest attraction at fairgrounds, and instigated the birth of the Observation Wheel, a much slower rotating wheel, now seen in most of the world's larger towns and cities, in order to give tourists a 180 degree bird's eye view of their surroundings.



The world's oldest continually used Ferris wheel is situated at Prater Amusement Park, Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria.

Built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef in 1897, this antique wheel, known as the Reisenrad (the traveller) stands 212 feet high and carries 15 cars. 


                                THE RIESENRAD.

               ( Image courtesy of  Ute Mueller, Frankfurt) 

This Ferris wheel is the Singapore Flyer situated at the Marine Centre in Singapore.

Designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa the giant wheel stands 541 feet high, has a diameter of 492 feet and carries 28 capsules which  accommodate 28 people each.

Built in 2008, the Marina Bay landmark situated next to the Singapore Grand Prix Circuit, takes 37 minutes to complete a full rotation and offers stunning views across the Johor Strait to nearby Malaysia. 



 ( Image courtesy of RoB, wikimedia commons) 

The world's most famous observation wheel is the-london-eye, or Millenium Wheel, and at 443 feet high it is both Europe's and the western hemisphere's tallest.

Completed in 1999 in time for the city's millenium festivities, and originally only intended as a year long feature in the city, the wheel has become one of London's most visited attractions and one of the world's most photographed landmarks. 



( Image courtesy of Dilliff, wikimedia commons) 

Another wheel phenomena in recent years is the advent of the Eccentric Wheel, designed with cars, capsules or gondolas that ride on interior rails that slide in and out independently of the main wheel's rotations, giving the rider a more intense experience.

One of the most famous of these eccentric wheels is the 160 foot high Mickeys Fun Wheel situated at the Disney's California Adventure Pleasure Park  in Anaheim, California.

The brightly coloured wheel that exhibits a huge face of Mickey Mouse at it's centre comes complete with 24 gondolas, 8 stationary and 16 swinging. 

These 16 swinging gondolas take a motion sickness inducing nine minutes to complete it's hair raising ride. 


                  MICKEY'S FUN WHEEL.

( Image courtesy of Gonza777, wikimedia commons) 

The 353 feet high Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris wheel situated along Kishamichi Promenade at Minato Mirai - 21 in Yokohama , Japan was the world's tallest Ferris wheel from it's completion in 1989 until 1997.

Re - erected in 1999 to 369 feet, the wheel was no longer able to attain it's former world record , but it does claim to sport the world's largest clock, although there are no dimensions of the clock's size on record in order to verify this.

The wheel holds 60 cars which can carry 8 people at a time and takes 15 minutes to complete a single rotation. 


                THE COSMOCLOCK 21.

    ( Image courtesy of Ajari, wikimedia commons) 

Transportable Ferris / observation wheels are now becoming big business, with cities all over the world, loaning wheels for particular exhibitions or events.

The world's largest supplier of these transportable wheels is the Swiss company Ronald Bussink ( who have manufactured and erected  wheels all over the world, including Barcelona, Spain, Melbourne Australia and the 217 foot high observation wheel in Belfast City centre.

This wheel, which is situated next to Belfast's City Hall, carries 42 capsules that take 13 minutes to complete one rotation, giving the rider stunning views across Northern Ireland's capital city and the coastline and countryside beyond.



 ( Image courtesy of Ardfern, wikimedia commons) 





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Comments (5)

Great job on this Dee! The London Eye is certainly a site to behold!

nice work

Job well done Dee, I used to ride Ferris-wheel when I was young and really it was scary, not for the height but for the wheel machine itself. Its old and out-dated. There were instances here in my location of local fun places every Christmas and Holidays of accidents on Ferris wheels.

Ranked #1 in Local Reviews

@ Ron, I know what you mean, I loved them when I was young, but could,nt ride one now. As for accidents, I came across quite a few whilst researching this piece, so yes, that is scary in this day and age. The worst wheels seem to be the transportable ones, lots of accidents attributed to them.

Cool article! The pictures are great, especially the London Eye.