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George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. designed and built the original wheel for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893
The Ferris Wheel was the Chicago expositions answer to the 1889 Paris exposition’s Eiffel Tower. The original Ferris Wheel consisted of 36 sixty-person cars for a capacity of 2,160 persons. Each car was 24 feet long, 13 feet wide, and 10 feet high.

Original Ferris Wheel
The Ferris Wheel was 265 feet high. At the time of the Exposition, the Board of Trade Building at 320 feet and the Masonic Temple (left) at 302 feet were the only taller buildings in Chicago.

Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893
For fifty cents, passengers rode the wheel for approximately twenty minutes, during which time the wheel made two complete revolutions.

The view from Ferris Wheel looking east over the Midway towards Lake Michigan. You can see the White City buildings that we just left in the background. The dome of the Illinois State building is on the left and the dome of the U.S. Government building is on the right.

On the left is the German Village, then the Javanese village, imported in pieces from Java. Beyond the viaduct is the Japanese Bazaar and the Irish Village. On the right is the Turkish Village and the Swiss Alps exhibit, then the Dutch settlement.

Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893
Panoramic view from the Ferris Wheel looking west.
On the left in progression is the Austrian Village, the West African Dahomey Village, the International Dress and Costume Company, the Scandanavian Lapland Village, and the Hungarian Concert Garden.

On the right in progression is the Volcano Kilauea, the Moroccan exhibits, the Chinese village, the Brazilian concert hall, an American Indian village and an East Indian village.

Related Reading:
  • Touring the Chicago World’s Fair: The Court of Honor in Pictures
  • More Pictures From the White City
  • The Original Ferris Wheel in Pictures
  • Chicago’s World’s Fair: The Remains of the Day
  • Chicago’s World’s Fair: One Last Photo