During 1893 the World’s Columbian Exposition was coming up in Chicago and the Eiffel Tower had gone up in Paris in 1887. Chicago wanted to be sure they had something incredible to match Paris’s achievement so they put out the message asking engineers to make something bigger and better than the Eiffel Tower.
George Washington Gale Ferris Jr was an American engineer, he grew up in Galesburg in Illinois, before moving to Nevada and Oakland to complete his engineering studies in 1881. He graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering and was buzzing with excitement to change the world with his inventions. Initially, he started his career in the railroad industry, due to his interest in building complex bridges.
When Ferris found out that the World’s Columbian Exposition was being held in Chicago he knew that he had to be a part of the fair. The exposition was a world fair to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovering the Americas. And it was perfect to be held in Chicago which at the time was a center of American industrial optimism. In 1891, the organizers made a statement that challenged all American engineers to build a monument that would surpass even the Eiffel Tower, something that would be unique.
This how the Ferris Wheel was invented, the rotating wheel high above the grounds and the city that would let people view the great city of Chicago from above. Initially, no one thought it would be safe, Ferris kept at it though and after some verifications by established engineers, it was allowed to be made. In fact, Ferris even convinced some local investors to take part in the project as it was going to cost $400,000 to construct. The committee believed the admission fees would cover it.
And the Ferris Wheel was an amazing success carrying over 2 million people before it was closed and demolished in 1906.