It was 1893 at the Chicago World Fair and the engineer who designed one of the exhibits was named George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. so you just know the guy wore spats, and today is
NATIONAL FERRIS WHEEL DAY!
Nobody ever accused George Ferris of thinking small.
His winning design for a defining feat of engineering for the World’s Fair was a gigantic steel spinning wheel fitted with 36 passenger cars with 40 swiveling chairs apiece that could carry (!) 2,160 people at one time, offering them a panoramic view of Chicago.
The idea was to out-Eiffel the Eiffel Tower, introduced in 1889 at the Paris Exposition. The original Ferris Wheel was 26 stories tall, and a smashing success.
It’s such a simple and reliable design that there are uncounted thousands of Ferris Wheels all over the world taking happy kids of all ages for a spin. Here’s to George Ferris (1859-1896), cheated out of his profits at the World’s Fair and dead of typhoid at only 37, but immortal.
•Suggested Activities: Promising your Valentine a spin on Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel this Spring.