NATIONAL FERRIS WHEEL DAY
February 14th is the annual observance of National Ferris Wheel Day. This unofficial national holiday is held on this day to honor the birth of the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.
Preparations for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition began in earnest in 1891. Director of works for the fair, Daniel H. Burnham, laid out the challenge: create a centerpiece to the show that will rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Erected the year before, the Eiffel Tower was quickly becoming a world attraction. Ideas were tossed about, plans presented and plans rejected.
George Washington Gale Ferris was inspired. He contemplated several ideas, but it wasn’t until one evening in a Chicago chophouse that he struck on an idea that could fit the challenge. After sketching out the design on napkins, he proceeded to develop his plans.
When presented with the concept Burnham balked, doubting it could safely carry people to such heights. Ferris persisted. Spending $25,000 of his own money, he paid for safety studies, obtained $600,000 more from investors, hired engineers and built the 250-foot diameter wheel and hoisted it up between 140-foot twin towers.
It was a colossal success at 26 stories tall and making a whopping $726,805.50. In 1893, that was a hefty profit for the fair.
Despite the wheel’s success, Ferris struggled after the fair. Lawsuits over who owed who bankrupt him. His wife left him. Then in 1896, a few short years after the fair, he died at the age of 37 of typhoid fever.
The original wheel suffered a similar fate. In 1906, it was destroyed with dynamite for scrap metal. The idea has lived on, and wheels continue to be enjoyed around the world.
WHEELS AROUND THE WORLD
Tianjin Eye Ferris Wheel in Tianjin, China, is built over a bridge spanning the Hai River.
The London Eye overlooks the Thames River in London.
The ever classic Wonder Wheel of Coney Island in New York City was built by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company from 1918-1920.
Take your breath away looking over Niagara Falls from a seat on the Niagara Skywheel in Canada.
HOW TO OBSERVE
If you are near a Ferris Wheel, catch a lift up to the top and enjoy the view. Use #NationalFerrisWheelDay to post on social media.
National Ferris Wheel Day is celebrated to honor the inventor of the Ferris Wheel. However, our research was unable to find the creator of this day.
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