Keeping an Eye on London

This has nothing to do with the police or any of the other authorities charged with looking after London and its citizens. Instead, it refers to one of the most visible new landmarks in the centre of the capitol. I am of course talking about the London Eye which is a very large Ferris Wheel on the South Bank close to Westminster Bridge. But, although it is known to most people who not only live and work in London, it is also on the itinerary of many tourists and visitors. But, how many know the stories behind it?

There are large and small Ferris Wheels around the world but who invented them and when? To answer that, we have to travel to North America and to a man by the name of George Washington Gale Ferris. He was born in 1859 in Galesburg, Illinois. The first of his great wheels appeared at the Chicago World Fair of 1893. It was such a success that very soon, others were being erected in various locations.

The London Eye was constructed in 1999 in time for the Millennia celebrations. Originally, it was only designed to be there for a few years, but 24 years later, it is still attracting crowds each day. It is certainly spectacular, reaching a height of 443 feet, which was a world record at the time. However, it has now been overtaken by one in China called the Star of Nanchang at 520 feet and then by the Singapore Flyer at 541 feet in height.

Returning to the London Eye, it has 32 passenger capsules, each weighing 10 tons and holding up to 25 people. It takes approximately 30 minutes to make one complete revolution. It is usual for passengers to get and get off whilst it is in motion. But, don’t worry, it moves very slowly. I have been on it a few times, both in the day and at night. Both are well worth experiencing.

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