How Many People Could Ride on the First Ferris Wheel?

Exactly 2,160 people could ride on the first Ferris wheel, which was debuted in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, also known as the Columbian Exposition. The amusement ride contained 36 cars that could seat 60 passengers each. It was 264 feet (80 m) high and could hold a weight of over 2.3 million pounds (1,191 tons). Engineer George Washington Gale Ferris designed the wheel and the construction was completed in just over four months due to the Chicago World’s Fair committee not approving of it at first, citing the idea as ridiculous and impossible. The first Ferris wheel operated for six months at the 1893 Exposition and earned over $725,000 US Dollars (USD).

More about the Ferris wheel:

  • The Ferris wheel was created as a way for the US to compete with the Paris World’s Fair in 1889, during which the Eiffel Tower had been debuted.
  • It took nearly three months to dismantle the first Ferris wheel and move it to a new site.
  • The world’s tallest Ferris wheel, as of 2014, is located in Las Vegas, Nevada and stands approximately 550 feet (167 m) high.

Discussion Comments


Based on my experience, one of the reasons why I don't like going on Ferris Wheels is because of how dangerous they can be. In fact, reading this article reminds me of a time where I actually did get stuck on a Ferris wheel. A few years ago, I was at Six Flags Great America, and before it was time to go, I decided to take a ride on the wheel. Little did I know it was a mistake that I was going to soon regret. Halfway through the ride, it got stuck and I had to sit up there for 3 hours. Thankfully, it began to work again real soon, but that's why you need to be careful about what kind of rides you decide to go on.

@RoyalSpyder - First of all, I do think that you make some very interesting points. However, most of all, I highly agree when you said that Ferris wheels have a tendency to get stuck, and this may be one of the reasons why the capacity isn't as large as it used to be.

In fact, based on my experience, I've noticed this to be the case with several amusement park rides, where many precautions were taken in order to ensure that nothing bad would happen again. For example, have you ever heard of a ride called the giant drop? Many years ago, I heard of an incident where a girl got her hair caught in one of the contraptions.

Because of this, when the giant drop went down...well, you probably know what happened next. Since then, not only have I heard that the ride is now more secure, but so are amusement parks in general. It's always good to be careful around machines. After all, like most things, they have a specific wear and tear.

Does anyone else find it interesting that the Ferris wheel was originally supposed to hold so many passengers? In my opinion, this really shows how technology has changed and developed over time. Does anyone else agree with me?

In fact, for all that we know, perhaps one of the reasons why Ferris wheels don't fit as many people as they did before, is due to the fact that more than often, people have gotten stuck on Ferris wheels. Besides, with that kind of capacity, it's really no surprise that something like that would happen in the first place.

Lastly, in relation to the first bullet point, I would also like to note that I find the origin of the Ferris wheel, and why it was even created in the first place, to be rather interesting.

Unlike what we associate it with today, it appears that it was created as a means to be a source of competition. Overall, this is some very interesting stuff.

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