|Click 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 only 20 minutes (no motor vehicles) from the city's principal hotels and railway stations.
The Directors sold bonds hoping to landscape the grounds, build a restaurant, a beer garden, a band shell, a Vaudeville theater, and paint the Wheel and Cars. Ferris' partner in the plan was Charles T. Yerkes, Jr. (which his involvement with the park is debatable), the transit magnate who owned streetcar lines adjacent to the site.
|Construction of the Ferris Wheel.|
ACTUAL FILM FOOTAGE
A Lumière Film: Chicago. Grande Roue (1896)
The Original Ferris Wheel at Ferris Wheel Park.
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.
The lack of support of the park was due to its location within a residential subdivision and the residents of both communities of Lincoln Park and Lake View were not fans of the new owner of the park, Charles Tyson Yerkes, Jr., who owned the Chicago Electric Street Railway that owned and operated streetcars on Evanston Avenue (now Broadway) and Clark Street.
For years, Mr. Yerkes tried to circumvent property owners by trying, through city government, to acquire property for his company without due process.
Imagine trying to locate a Six Flags amusement park in a middle of an urban residential street.
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" the St. Louis World's Fair was opened to the public on April 30, 1904.
|View looking north west from the lakefront at Fullerton, Chicago. 1895|
Complied by Neil Gale, Ph.D.