Thursday, August 28, 2008

The First Ferris Wheel


Those who've read this month's book might be interested in this picture of the first Ferris Wheel. Those who haven't read it might be astounded to know that the first Ferris Wheel dwarfed the ones we see today. If you'll click the link below and use the zoom tool and the hand tool, you can get a closer look (in a lithograph of the wheel) and see that each car on the wheel is not a seat for a couple people, but a compartment similar in size to a bus. Each held 40 people seated and 20 standing. With 36 cars in all, it could hold 2000+ people.

http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/3899.html

16 comments:

Whirlochre said...

Looks scary.

But I'd rather take a ride on the first ferris wheel than the last...

sylvia said...

Wow, that's HUGE! That kind of puts the building works into perspective.

Now what was the horrific accident that caused the cut-down version we have now, I wonder...

Evil Editor said...

Probably the invention of the roller coaster. Suddenly the lines at the Ferris Wheel got a lot shorter.

Robin S. said...

I just zoomed in for a look. These cars look huge- bigger than the ones on the London Eye, although that is a big one. When we were in it, each car, if you will, seemed like a lounge of a room.

Scared me, to be honest.

BuffySquirrel said...

Definite ancestor of the London Eye.

Dave F. said...

Ferris was from Pittsburgh and several wheels that he built are still operating.

I don't think that there was ever an accident of a Ferris Wheel falling over that stopped them building big ones, It's just that the bigger you build them, the more people it takes every day, day after day, to pay for the construction and operation. The ride on a Roller Coaster took 3 to 5 minutes and the loading and unloading was fast and easy. Today, some of the fastest and scariest coasters give you a 60 second ride and can reload in every three minutes. Also, once you got the coaster car up the highest hill, you just let it roll downhill after that.

A huge Ferris Wheel requires stopping and starting for each car and then 2 or 3 minutes to spin when all the cars are filled.

It takes a big REEVES motor to do that and good brakes. I worked with REEVES drives suitable for amusement park work and they were eight to ten foot high marvels of gears and belts and all sorts of moving parts in large cabinets. They drove our gas compressor for hydrogen up to 8,000 psig. The compressors were 12 feet long piston affairs with 48 inch flywheels.

Big, honkin' electric motors (like 24" diameter and 36" long) replaced the REEVES Drive. 60 to 80 horsepower.

And now the sad part of my tale - Company surprised me and I will be serving and eating dinner during the book discussion. Sorry about that.

Evil Editor said...

Your company can wait till 6:45. Give 'em some Vienna sausages to hold them till then.

Whirlochre said...

The London Eye, I found to be surprisingly unscary.

It revolves so slowly, it almost seems like you're going nowhere and the entire structure has the stability of an impossible sumo wrestler.

One minute, you're on the ground. Next, you're some unspeakable distance up looking down on Big Ben like you'd just woken with a start and checked the time on your alarm.

This one looks a bit rickety. Bet it was fun, though.

Robin S. said...

Hey, Whirl, the slow part was the scary part, to me. I find hurrying a lot more comforting - going slow made me feel stuck- the way it feels on the rickety carnoval Ferris Wheels where you're at the top and the seat's wobbling, and they're inching down, a bit at a time, letting people off below you.
Those were the times I was absolutely certain I was gonna slip out of the seat and fall out.

Evil Editor said...

According to Wikipedia the London Eye was surpassed as the world's tallest by the Nanching Star, which was surpassed by a Singapore wheel. Apparently Beijing is after the record now. And according to Sky News, whatever that is, there are people hoping to build a Baghdad wheel.

Though taller than the first wheel, these don't hold as many passengers. As I recall from the book, a giant wind storm hit Chicago, knocking the roofs off many of the world's fair buildings, and the Ferris wheel swayed about a quarter inch.

Robin S. said...

They're all too tall for me. Too much falling fear there- and it's not a fear of heights as much as it's a fear of loss of control, or not having it in the first place, and being stuck up there and at someone's mercy.

I'd probably feel more like that on planes than I do, except I can't see what's really going on around me, and I drink while I'm up there.

Whirlochre said...

The Baghdad Wheel?

Maybe they're planning a theme park, the theme being ARE YOU INSANE?

Wes said...

Just what I'd want to do.........ride a Ferris Wheel in Baghdad!

talpianna said...

I've always fancied this one. I've seen it, but I didn't get to ride it:

http://tinyurl.com/5j6dob

EE, Sky News is the satellite TV segment of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Dave F. said...

Your company can wait till 6:45. Give 'em some Vienna sausages to hold them till then.

uh, those Vienna sausage hurt and break things. They're slippery little missiles. And they leave the ugliest grease stains on walls.

It was a fun dinner. The prawns had cute eyes and yesterday the steak was named Bessie. The wine flowed like Bacchus returned for his eponymous celebration... the only thing missing was a military toe tap with sparklers.

I do regret missing the chat. What I read of it was fun and informative.

BuffySquirrel said...

Sky News is worthless.