La Grande Roue. Place de la Concorde, Paris
Google reminded me that its George Ferris’s birthday today. He was an American engineer most famous for creating the original Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition.When the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893 was being planned in Chicago, the 33-year old Ferris arrived hoping to help build a structure to outdo the Eiffel Tower, the centerpiece of the Paris Exhibition of 1889. The Exhibition’s planners wanted something “original, daring and unique.” Inspired, Ferris sketched a huge, revolving “observation wheel” on some scrap paper that same night, in detail down to the ticket price. The next day, he presented his idea to the committee. They had heard of the smaller, wooden “pleasure wheels” that had begun to appear at various vacation spots about twenty-five years before; but, seeing the sheer size of Ferris’ wheel, the committee dismissed him as a crackpot. A few weeks later, Ferris returned to the committee. He had convinced several fellow engineers to endorse his structure as both buildable and safe; more importantly, he had found local investors to cover the $400,000 cost to construct. This time, Ferris’ plan was approved. STORY CONTINUES VIA Inventor of the Week.
Fortunately Mr. Ferris was persistent, as where would we be without this uniquely beautiful and romantic observation wheel?