skip to Main Content

Engineers Recognize Ferris Wheels as an Engineering Feat

The Texas State Fair would not be complete without its iconic huge Ferris wheel. Known as the Texas Star, the Ferris wheel located at the Texas State Fairgrounds holds the record of the tallest traditional Ferris wheel in North America. Did you know, Ferris wheels are a great engineering feat?

Ferris Wheel Origin

The Ferris wheel was designed by a structural engineer named George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., in response to the challenge of creating a structure that would rival the Eiffel Tower. This structure would be unveiled at the 1893 World’s Fair taking place in Chicago, Illinois. 

An article from the Chicago Architecture Center explains, “Ferris brought the idea for an enormous metal wheel to Daniel Burnham, the fair’s lead architect, after Burnham requested an iconic structure.” Burnham was concerned about the safety of Ferris’s proposed structure. After investing his own money to study the safety and reliability of his wheel, Ferris finally convinced Burnham of the project’s feasibility. 

The 1893 World’s Fair 

The Ferris Wheel was built and became a popular exhibit at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. It was 264 feet high. This was higher than many contemporary buildings and before human flight was readily accessible making each fairgoer’s ride the highest height they had ever been.

At the time of the 1893 World’s Fair, the original Ferris wheel featured the largest single piece of forged steel ever created. The Ferris wheel is recognized by the Chicago Architecture Center as “One of Chicago’s most prevalent but overlooked cultural contributions.” Ferris’s determination and designs resulted in an awe-inspiring addition to the fair but also opened doors for other engineering innovations while contributing to the entertainment of countless people who still ride Ferris wheels today. 

OEI Engineers Build on Historical Innovation

OEI takes pride in innovation with a foundation in history. With a strong foundation of experience and knowledge we create new methodologies and techniques to use old and new materials in original ways. The mindset of our engineers elevates our projects over other firms in the industry. Visit our innovation page to discover how OEI is moving the engineering industry forward in areas such as environmental stewardship, regulatory agency coordination, and more.