National Ferris Wheel Day Date in the current year: February 14, 2024

National Ferris Wheel Day National Ferris Wheel Day is celebrated annually on February 14. It commemorates the birthday of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., the designer and constructor of one of the most beloved amusement rides.

A Ferris wheel, also known as an observation wheel or a giant wheel, is an amusement ride that consists of a rotating upright wheel with multiple passenger cars. The cars are attached to the rim of the wheel and stay upright as it turns, usually due to gravity.

Early “pleasure wheels” (amusement rides whose passengers rode in chairs suspended from a large wooden ring that was turned by strong men) are believed to have originated sometime in the 17th century in the Ottoman Empire. They subsequently began to appear in other countries across Europe and beyond, and were introduced to the Americas by Antonio Maguino in 1848.

The first American pleasure wheel was designed by William Somers in 1892. He installed three wheels in New Jersey and New York, and was granted the first U.S. patent for a “roundabout” the next year. But it is the design developed by civil engineer George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. that became widespread.

Ferris graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1881 and began working in the railroad industry. However, his true passion was bridge building. Understanding the growing need for structural steel, Ferris founded a company that specialized in testing and inspecting metals for bridges and railroads in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Upon hearing the news of the planned World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Ferris came to the city. The organizers of the Exposition challenged American engineers to design a monument that would surpass the Eiffel Tower constructed for the 1889 Paris Exposition. Ferris proposed to create a gigantic pleasure wheel that would give visitors an opportunity to see the entire exposition from above. The organizers were originally skeptical of this proposal, but Ferris managed to persuade them.

The wheel was designed by Ferris and constructed during the winter of 1892–1893. It had a 45.5 foot long axle manufactured by the Pennsylvania-based Bethlehem Iron Company and 36 passenger cars that could accommodate up to 60 people each, giving the wheel a total capacity of 2,160. Once the exposition opened, the wheel carried around 38,000 passengers daily.

Due to the popularity of the original Ferris wheel, the term “Ferris wheel” became a generic term for all such amusement rides in American English. Today, Ferris wheels are extremely popular, and can be found at amusement parks around the world. As of 2024, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel is Ain Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. It stands at 820 ft and has a seating capacity of 1,750. However, it has been closed indefinitely since March 2022.

It is unclear who and when came up with the idea of celebrating National Ferris Wheel Day, but there is no doubt that this amazing amusement ride deserves to be celebrated. The best ways to observe the holiday are to catch a Ferris wheel ride, learn more about the world’s tallest and most spectacular Ferris wheels, and post on social media with the hashtags #NationalFerrisWheelDay and #FerrisWheelDay to spread the word.

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National Ferris Wheel Day, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr, unofficial holidays, observances in the US, Ferris wheel