1893 Chicago Ferris Wheel: World's Columbian Exposition

BrokenAgate

Well-known member
Messages
330
Reactions
1,097
1893 Worlds Fair Ferris Wheel compared to Navy Pier’s 1995 Ferris Wheel.jpg

The Ferris Wheel made its debut at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893. It was, of course, a big hit with fair goers, who enjoyed their first taste of this amazing ride that would become a carnival staple ever after. I knew these basic facts, but didn't really pay attention to the actual wheel, and I'm betting a lot of other people didn't, either. Now, you'd be perfectly normal in thinking that the first-ever Ferris Wheel would be a rather small, and perhaps not terribly safe, contraption. That's certainly what I assumed, somewhere in the back of my mind.
entrance.jpg
Turns out that the very first Ferris Wheel in the world was a highly technologically advanced and sophisticated machine, and it was ENORMOUS. Seriously, I cannot stress enough the sheer size of this thing. Take a look at these images. It towers over everything else in the fair, dominates the skyline for miles around, and look at the size of the individual cars! Each one is about the size of a mobile trailer home, and people can walk around quite comfortably inside them. Who the hell built this thing, and how did they do it? I'd love to see the factory that cranked out parts for this ride. Alas, no images or information exists of the construction of this monstrously huge carnival ride, which is very strange, but not at all surprising at this point. The more I look at these images, the more I am convinced that the actual machinery was found in situ, but it served a much different purpose than mere human entertainment, and was simply modified to make a happy-fun ride so that nobody would ask questions about where the thing came from.

The original Ferris Wheel
The Chicago Wheel, was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. With a height of 80.4 metres (264 ft) it was the tallest attraction at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, where it opened to the public on June 21, 1893. It was intended to rival the 324-metre (1,063 ft) Eiffel Tower, the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Exposition.

Ferris was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bridge-builder. He began his career in the railroad industry and then pursued an interest in bridge building. Ferris understood the growing need for structural steel and founded G.W.G. Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh, a firm that tested and inspected metals for railroads and bridge builders.

The wheel rotated on a 71-ton, 45.5-foot axle comprising what was at that time the world's largest hollow forging, manufactured in Pittsburgh by the Bethlehem Iron Company and weighing 89,320 pounds, together with two 16-foot-diameter (4.9 m) cast-iron spiders weighing 53,031 pounds.

axle_ferris_wheel.jpg

There were 36 cars, each fitted with 40 revolving chairs and able to accommodate up to 60 people, giving a total capacity of 2,160. The wheel carried some 38,000 passengers daily and took 20 minutes to complete two revolutions, the first involving six stops to allow passengers to exit and enter and the second a nine-minute non-stop rotation, for which the ticket holder paid 50 cents.

Ferris wheel closeup.jpg

The Exposition ended in October 1893, and the wheel closed in April 1894 and was dismantled and stored until the following year. It was then rebuilt on Chicago's North Side, near Lincoln Park, next to an exclusive neighborhood. This prompted William D. Boyce, then a local resident, to file a Circuit Court action against the owners of the wheel to have it removed, but without success. It operated there from October 1895 until 1903, when it was again dismantled, then transported by rail to St. Louis for the 1904 World's Fair and finally destroyed by controlled demolition using dynamite on May 11, 1906.

Ferris Wheel - Wikipedia
Ferris Wheel in the 1893 Chicago World's Fair
The Life and Explosive Death of the World's First Ferris Wheel
 

KorbenDallas

Negotiator
Messages
3,533
Reactions
13,128
...finally destroyed by controlled demolition using dynamite on May 11, 1906.
You gotta love little things like that. Instead of disassembling and recycling the steel, they just blew everything up. Makes a lot of sense. Demolishing the "Old World Order" here?

Ferris wheel demolished.jpg

And then we have to love other pictures pertaining to this "very first" Ferris Wheel.

photo-chicago-columbian-exposition-the-axel-for-the-ferris-wheel-1893.jpg

Ferris Wheel lincoln park 1895 storeyofchicago.jpg


Steam hoist for Ferris Wheel project
chicagoworldsfair4steamhoistforferriswheelproject.jpg


Construction/Deconstruction?
Ferris wheel construction.jpg


What could it be prior?
Ferris Wheel _ Mill.JPG

The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. as a landmark for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The term Ferris wheel later came to be used generically for all such structures. Ferris was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bridge-builder. He began his career in the railroad industry and then pursued an interest in bridge building. Ferris understood the growing need for structural steel and founded G.W.G. Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh, a firm that tested and inspected metals for railroads and bridge builders.
  • The Burden Iron Works was an iron works and industrial complex on the Hudson River and Wynantskill Creek in Troy, New York. It once housed the Burden Water Wheel, the most powerful vertical water wheel in history. It most likely inspired George Washington Ferris to build the Ferris wheel. The iron works site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an archaeological site in 1977. The Burden Ironworks Office Building was previously listed in 1972.
 

CyborgNinja

Well-known member
Messages
240
Reactions
1,032
axle_ferris_wheel.jpg
Alot of the knowledge around forging these big sections has been lost. For instance the boiler tanks for locomotive steam engines cannot be reproduced because the exact process for heating and re-heating the solid pieces has been forgotten as the men who carried the knowledge were made obselete and made redundant. It was all word of mouth knowledge.

There were no written down insteuctions.
 

Paracelsus

Well-known member
Messages
334
Reactions
1,419
You gotta love little things like that. Instead of disassembling and recycling the steel, they just blew everything up. Makes a lot of sense. Demolishing the "Old World Order" here?

And then we have to love other pictures pertaining to this "very first" Ferris Wheel.

View attachment 14087
View attachment 14088

Steam hoist for Ferris Wheel project
View attachment 14089

Construction/Deconstruction?
View attachment 14093

What could it be prior?
View attachment 14094
The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. as a landmark for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The term Ferris wheel later came to be used generically for all such structures. Ferris was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bridge-builder. He began his career in the railroad industry and then pursued an interest in bridge building. Ferris understood the growing need for structural steel and founded G.W.G. Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh, a firm that tested and inspected metals for railroads and bridge builders.
  • The Burden Iron Works was an iron works and industrial complex on the Hudson River and Wynantskill Creek in Troy, New York. It once housed the Burden Water Wheel, the most powerful vertical water wheel in history. It most likely inspired George Washington Ferris to build the Ferris wheel. The iron works site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an archaeological site in 1977. The Burden Ironworks Office Building was previously listed in 1972.
Seeing all of these spectacular feats of engineering obdurately torn down makes me feel like this -
 
OP
BrokenAgate

BrokenAgate

Well-known member
Messages
330
Reactions
1,097
Thanks for the additions to this posting, I didn't really have time to look up additional images (as I have to use the library computers). I am stunned by the sheer scale of this operation, and then shocked that they would simply blow it all up for no reason, although I'm betting it became mighty expensive to move that thing around. But surely, some rich person could have purchased some land and made a permanent attraction out of it? This whole story is strange, and nobody notices or asks questions.

Alot of the knowledge around forging these big sections has been lost. For instance the boiler tanks for locomotive steam engines cannot be reproduced because the exact process for heating and re-heating the solid pieces has been forgotten as the men who carried the knowledge were made obselete and made redundant. It was all word of mouth knowledge.

There were no written down insteuctions.
I find that to be very strange, too. They had these highly complex machines, how could they not have diagrams and instructions as to how it all fit together? How do you pass that along solely through word of mouth? Either they had that information and it was lost in one of the many fires that seems to have plagued humanity at around the same time...or they never had them at all because the stuff was basically already built, and all they needed to do was repair it and get it running. What we see in the pictures, going from that skyline-dominating monster of a machine down to little fairground appliances that can barely pass an inspection (and often don't)...well, it just doesn't fit the supposed timeline progression. We're supposed to go from primitive to advanced, but instead we're doing exactly the opposite. This isn't just losing the instructions, this is a full-on devolution of technology in all areas of life.
 
OP
BrokenAgate

BrokenAgate

Well-known member
Messages
330
Reactions
1,097
That thing is scary, like something out of a cyberpunk nightmare!
 

Top