THE WHEEL: FERRIS’ BIG IDEA

Listen to The First here. Or here:

01: The first Ferris Wheel was invented to become America’s Eiffel Tower, making its grand debut at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The wheel’s inventor George Washington Gale Ferris was a clever and optimistic soul; he did everything in his power to ensure that his glorious mechanical ride would forever change the world.

That it did, but unfortunately, its inventor paid a horrible price.

FEATURING a visit the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, one of the most famous wheels in the world, and a trip to one of Chicago’s newest marvels — the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier.

George Washington Gale Ferris:

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… and the Ferris Wheel at the World’s Fair.

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Courtesy Chicago History Museum
Courtesy Chicago History Museum

Some intriguing finds I made while researching at the Chicago History Museum and the National Archives:

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The telegram from Luther Rice to George Washington Ferris that was read on the show:

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This was also featured on the show — the passionate letter from Ferris, asking Rice to join the project

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Images of wheel construction courtesy Scientific American.

Courtesy Scientific American
Courtesy Scientific American
Courtesy Scientific American
Courtesy Scientific American
Courtesy Scientific American
Courtesy Scientific American
Courtesy Scientific American
Courtesy Scientific American

 

New York Times, May 13, 1894 — This article mentioned the plan to move the Ferris Wheel to New York (but the plan fell through)

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From the New York Times, March 1, 1898

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PLACES TO VISIT:

The Chicago Navy Pier (featured on the show)

Chicago History Museum (featured on the show)

The Midway Pleasance and Jackson Park, Chicago

The Ferris House in Pittsburgh, PA

The Sears-Ferris House in Carson City, Nevada

The Wonder Wheel and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn (featured on the show)

The High Roller, Las Vegas, Nevada

Weiter Riesenrad (Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel), Vienna, Austria

THINGS TO READ:

Ferris Wheels: An Illustrated History by Norman Anderson

Circles In the Sky: The Life and Times of George Ferris by Richard G. Weingardt

Six Months at the Fair by Mrs Mark Stevens

ARTWORK FOR THE FIRST DESIGNED BY THOMAS CABUS. CHECK OUT HIS PORTFOLIO OF OTHER WORK HERE.

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