|Click the picture for a full-size image.|
In 1895, the Wheel's inventor, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., found a new site for the observation wheel on Chicago's North Side, in the Park West neighborhood of the Lincoln Park community and named it "Ferris Wheel Park." It was at Clark Street and Wrightwood Avenue, only 20 minutes by public transportation from the city's principal hotels and railway stations. There were very few motor vehicles during these early years.
NOTE: The Duryea brothers created their first gasoline-powered "horseless carriage" in 1893. America's First Automobile Race took place in Chicago in 1895.
The Directors sold bonds hoping to landscape the grounds, build a restaurant, a beer garden, a bandshell, a Vaudeville theater, and paint the wheel of its cars. Ferris' partner in the plan was Charles T. Yerkes, Jr. (whose involvement with the park is debatable), the transit magnate who owned streetcar lines adjacent to the site.
|Construction of the Ferris Wheel. The Second Church of Christ Scientist still stands at 2700 N Pine Grove Ave, Chicago.|
Amazing footage of the Ferris Wheel running in 1896 at Clark and Wrightwood in Lincoln Park, Chicago. The vantage point here is looking from the southwest corner of Wrightwood, northeast across Clark Street. Filmed by the Lumiere Brothers and is one of the first films ever shot in Chicago.The ride, which some have jocularly claimed drew more complaints and lawsuits than patrons, experienced financial problems and was seized by the Cook County Sheriff in November 1896, just before 37-year-old George Washington Gale Ferris' death from tuberculosis in November. Ferris Wheel Park continued to remain open for business.
For years, Mr. Yerkes tried to circumvent property owners by trying, through the city government, to acquire property for his company without due process.
The wheel remained until 1903, when it was dismantled and transported to the site of what would be its last hurrah. The Ferris wheel was brought to St. Louis, Missouri, for the 1904 World's Fair. "The Louisiana Purchase Exposition" at the St. Louis World's Fair was opened to the public on April 30, 1904.
|View looking northwest from the lakefront at Fullerton, Chicago. 1895|
1893 Ferris wheel axle found buried after 1904 St. Louis World's Fair in Forest Park.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
I was born near the Midway and learned to ice skate there. I read The Devil in the White City and learned about this Ferris Wheel in that book. This is absolutely fascinating and the Lumier film is a treasure.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing this fascinating slice of Chicago history. The Ferris Wheel story is one that deserves more attention than it gets. The planners of the World's Fair needed something to demonstrate that America (and Chicago in particular) could build something even larger and more flamboyant than the Eiffel Tower, which had been the centerpiece of the previous World's Fair in Paris. The wheel remains one of the great engineering feats in all of history, but met a sad and inglorious end.ReplyDelete
What an interesting article! Is the 8th photograph down taken on Drummond looking East? If so, the building with the arched windows is still there.ReplyDelete
Complete joy to read. Thank you for this awesome piece of history. I’m ten years new to the Chicago area and find its history fascinating.ReplyDelete