Navy Pier to Get Newer, Taller Ferris Wheel

The new Ferris Wheel will be 196 feet tall and is expected to debut in 2016

Navy Pier is set to get a newer, taller Ferris wheel, officials announced Tuesday.

The new Ferris wheel will be 196 feet tall and is expected to debut in 2016, according to the mayor’s office.

The wheel, part of a $115 million redevelopment project, will replace the 147-foot one installed in 1995. It is being financed by a loan from Fifth Third Bank and no public money will go toward its purchase, officials said.

"The redevelopment of Navy Pier is a vital to our ongoing efforts to attract 55 million visitors annually to the City of Chicago by 2020, creating new jobs and injecting millions of dollars into our local economy," Emanuel said in a statement. "I commend Navy Pier on the purchase of this new Ferris wheel, as it will bring new energy to this one of a kind Chicago attraction."

The first-ever Ferris Wheel was unveiled at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, making the Ferris wheel a hallmark of Chicago.

The new wheel will be the first of its kind in the U.S., with similar wheels currently being used in Hong Kong and Baku, Azerbaijan. It will feature two-sided cars, a structure that can withstand winds of 115 miles per hour, and safety glass capable of weathering intense storms, officials said. New gondolas can also hold up to 10 people-- the current wheel holds six—and will include padded seats, TV screens and speakers.

"One of our goals was to be sure the new wheel would provide our guests with a significantly enhanced year-round experience," Marilynn K. Gardner, President and CEO, Navy Pier, Inc., said in a statement. "The new wheel will deliver a smoother and more luxurious ride – increasing ride time from seven minutes to twelve minutes, and circling three times, not just once as the current wheel does."

Ferris wheel operations will be closed for construction during the off-season months beginning in late September and will reopen in the summer of 2016, in time for the wheel’s 2016 Centennial.

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