Friday, August 18, 2006

The wheel of Mr. Ferris

The planners of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair were in a quandary. It would be no mean feat to follow the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, which featured a tower designed by a guy named Eiffel. Architect Daniel Burnham, who was in charge of selecting the keynote project for Chicago, complained at an engineer’s banquet in 1891 about the lack of innovative thought he had encountered thus far in his quest.

In the audience was George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., the owner of a Pittsburgh iron and steel testing firm. During the dinner, Mr. Ferris had an idea, sketched out a design on a napkin and presented it to Mr. Burnham.

The Ferris Wheel was the hit of the Chicago World's Fair and is now a staple of county fairs, where this one was photographed. A generous portion of sky is included to honor Mr. Ferris’ blue-sky thinking.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.


Chris Pittock said...

Well I didn't know that, but now I'm better informed.

Is it me or do all roads seem to lead to Pittsburgh? They seem to for me this week at least.

Thank you for the education, it's much appreciated.


V. Schroeder said...

Who knew? Thank you for that great bit of background, and a wonderful picture too.

James said...

chris and v., thanks for the comments. In addition to photographing places and the things in those places, I'm also interested in the story behind those places and things.

Living in the Chicago 'burbs, there's always a little bit of pride in the Chicago origins of certain things.

Cedar said...

Have you read Devil in the White City?

Lots of discussion about Ferris' Wheel in that book.