ss_blog_claim=94754a6b1be8770ce22d6ccb8015a428 ¿Where the Heck are You?: An Eye On London

Saturday, April 10, 2010

An Eye On London

Ferris Wheels have always drawn a crowd. In fact,
they were specifically conceived to be spectacles.

The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by the American civil engineer George Ferris, hence its name. The Ferris Wheel was conceived as the centerpiece of the Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) held in Chicago, Illinois during 1893. The promoters of the Columbian Exposition desperately sought an engineering marvel to rival the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle’s iron girder tower designed by Gustave Eiffel. Ferris’ original wheel was 80 meters (260ft) tall and carried up to 2100 passengers at a time. The original Ferris Wheel was twice moved and reassembled after the Columbian Exposition. Its last performance was at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

At the time of its construction in 1999, the London Eye was the largest wheel type ride in the world. The term Ferris Wheel is now not generally applied to the gigantic wheels, such as those larger than 100 meters in diameter. The largest wheels are now called Observation Wheels to differentiate them from the smaller Ferris Wheels.

The Eye, also known Millennium Wheel, took its inaugural passengers of illuminati, glitterati, and politicos for a ride on December 31, 1999, just before midnight New Year’s Eve, to welcome in 2000 and the new millennium. The Eye opened to the public in March of 2000. London previously had the Gigantic Wheel. A wheel built in Earl’s Court in 1895 and modeled on Ferris’ original design.

The London Eye is135 meters tall, about 40 stories high, or 450 ft in diameter. The Eye takes 3.5 million riders for a spin annually - an average of almost 10,000 people per day - there are 32 capsule shaped cars each with room for up to 25 passengers. The wheel revolves at 1 kilometer per hour. The capsules slowly spin in relation to the revolving wheel to keep the floors level. The London Eye affords its riders a bird’s-eye view of London, and on a clear day a range of view up to 40 kilometers.

The spokes of the London Eye not only look much like spokes on your bicycle, but they also support the wheel in much the same manner.

My photos of the London Eye were taken from the vantage point of looking south across the River Thames from the Victoria Embankment and the Westminster Bridge, just a stone’s throw from the House of Parliament and Big Ben.

This shot is in high contrast, exposed for and focusing on the Eye, to capture the silhouetted image of the Boadicea statue on Victoria Embankment. Boadicea appears quite capable of “holding up” the Eye; after all, the statue depicts the Celtic Queen Boadicea charging in a chariot to fight the Romans who were invading England circa 60 C.E.

The London Eye has been surpassed in size by the 162 meters tall Star of Nanchang in Nanchang China which opened in May 2006. However, the Star’s reign as the biggest of the big wheels will be short, currently under construction the Great Beijing Wheel is to be unveiled with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games will be 208 meters high.

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