George Washington Ferris Jr. was a civil engineer specializing in bridges and other structural-steel designs when Chicago announced a competition for a centerpiece for its 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Paris had marked its 1889 world's fair with the Eiffel Tower, and Chicago was determined to have something similarly spectacular to boast about.
Ferris proposed building a 264-foot wheel with suspended carriages that could take 2,160 passengers at a time for a bird's-eye view of the fairgrounds. Many thought that was a pipe dream, as the Tribune recalled in Ferris' 1896 obituary: "He consulted the best engineers in the country, but they shook their heads and said the wheel wouldn't revolve." But Ferris persevered and was declared the contest winner — and his success would attach his name to all subsequent versions of the device, including the new Ferris wheel making its debut this year at Navy Pier. That wheel, which replaces a Ferris wheel installed in 1995, has been dubbed the "Centennial Wheel" in honor of Navy Pier's 100-year anniversary.
In 1893, Ferris certainly gave Chicago's boosters what they were looking for. It was far shorter than the Eiffel Tower — which had the advantage of having no moving parts, while Ferris' contraption rotated on a 71-ton, 45-foot axle that had, at the time, the world's largest hollow forging. Moreover, Ferris' wheel still answers to architect Daniel Burnham's famed challenge, "Make no small plans." His was 68 feet taller than Navy Pier's new wheel. #chicago #illinois #usa #america #amazing #breathtaking #view #vacation #summer #beauty #beautiful #love #sky #skyline #picoftheday #pictureoftheday #water #instagood #instalike #instatravel #travel #traveling #travelingram #travelphotography #adventure #wanderlust #explore #history