Ferris Wheels - Up Into the Sky


A Ferris wheel is a big structure made of steel that stands straight into the sky. Passenger cabins are connected to a moving wheel. The Ferris wheel is also called observation wheel because it takes passengers high up into the sky where they have a great view of the world around them.

The first such observation wheel was built by George Ferris, an American bridge builder. He designed and constructed a big wheel for the Chicago Exposition in1893. His name was used for all the big wheels that were built later.

Ferris’ first wheel was able to carry more than 2000 passengers. It was over 80 meters high and powered by two steam engines. The 37 cabins were able to carry 60 passengers each.

Today, Ferris wheels are big attractions in major cities around the world. Smaller wheels can be found at local fairs, carnivals or theme parks. The world’s biggest Ferris wheel is currently the Singapore Flyer. The wheel reaches 165 meters into the sky and started rotating in 2008. An even bigger Ferris wheel is being built in Beijing, China. It is planned to reach a height of 208 meters and will start operation some time in 2009.

The biggest observation wheel of the western world is the London Eye. It opened on December 31, 1999 – the last day of the millennium. The wheel takes visitors 135 meters up and gives them a fascinating view of the British capital.

Ferris wheels have played a role in many books and films. Vienna’s Riesenrad may be the star among popular Ferris wheels. The final scene of Graham Greene’s “Third Man” plays there.




Related Topics


  • attraction = great sight
  • cabin = a small room
  • connect = link, attach
  • construct = build
  • currently = right now
  • design = plan
  • exposition = a large event where you buy and sell products
  • height = how high something is
  • local fair = an outdoor event, where there are machines to see, games to play and where people sell products
  • millennium =a thousand years
  • observation = when you watch something for a certain time
  • popular = well-known
  • rotate = to revolve, go around
  • steam engine = a machine that produces power by burning coal to make hot water
  • steel = a very strong metal made out of iron
  • structure = object
  • theme park = a place where you can have fun and where the whole park has one topic
  • view = sight