Ferris wheel, amusement park ride. It consists of a power-operated wheel that is about 50 ft (15 m) in diameter. It has two rims that are parallel to and equidistant from the shaft about which the wheel rotates. Between the rims there are a number of seats or enclosed cars that carry passengers. George W. G. Ferris, a U.S. engineer from Galesburg, Ill., designed and built the first such wheel for the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1892. This wheel was 250 ft (76 m) in diameter and carried 36 cars with a seating capacity of 40 passengers each; its total weight was 220 tons. The world's largest Ferris wheel is that in Singapore (2008), which rises to 541 ft (165 m). Other large Ferris wheels include those in London, England (443 ft/135 m), and Yokohama, Japan (344 ft/105 m); the largest in the United States is the Texas Star in Dallas, at 212 ft (65 m). Ferris wheels may be found at many exhibitions, fairs, and carnivals.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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