“I see nothing in space as promising as the view from a Ferris wheel,” E.B. White once remarked. After the dismantling of the Seattle Center Fun Forest and Ferris wheel—closed in January 2011 to make way for the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum—Seattle will finally get its Ferris wheel back. The nearly-completed privately-funded wheel at Pier 57, with 8 supportive legs and 21 spokes, will weigh 280,330 pounds. Built by Chance Morgan Rides Manufacturing Inc. and funded by developer Hal Griffith, the 42 six-person gondolas will bring riders 175 feet into the air, with views of the Olympic Mountains to the west, Mount Rainier to the south, and the Cascade Mountains and the city to the east. Open year-round, the cars will be enclosed, heated, and air-conditioned, so no need to worry about the Seattle drizzle.
The widest part of the wheel is positioned perpendicular to the Elliot Bay waterfront to maximize views while preserving site lines for neighboring buildings. At 175 feet, the Seattle Ferris wheel is a reserved interpretation: the original Ferris wheel, built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, was 264-feet-tall. Today, the world’s largest Ferris wheel is the Singapore Flyer, built in 2008, which stands at 541 feet. The Seattle Ferris wheel will open by the Fourth of July.