A mega observation wheel four times higher and wider than Coney
Island’s Wonder Wheel is planned for New York City. The proposed 600 hundred foot viewing
attraction would revitalize the northern end of Staten Island at the ferry
terminal and create a new iconic structure for the skyline of New York City.
The Staten Island Advance reported early this week that New York’s
Plaza Capital Group Management LLC plans to build the attraction over current
parking lots on the north shore of Staten Island next to the ferry terminal. The lots sit on both sides of Yankee’s minor league
stadium. In addition, other bids were
proposed for the parcels with mix-use office and commercial spaces to be
developed. The bids were requests by the
New York Economic Development Corporation (EDC) last year to revitalize the area
at the St. George waterfront.
Spokesman for the EDC, Benjamin Branham said the agency is in
negotiations with multiple respondents for the two sites. Nothing else was mentioned due to EDC’s
regulation against publicizing any information while request for bids are in
the works. Leaving some speculation as
to whether or not the city will get its observation wheel
|Parcels for development - Staten Island|
This is not the first time that a giant observation wheel was
proposed for New York. Office Landlord Douglas
Durst and Tom Fox, co-founder of New York Water Taxi, tried to bring an observation
wheel to Governors Island unsuccessfully in the past.
In a recent statement, Mr. Fox said that they had once considered
Staten Island, as well, for a possible site of the attraction, but felt it
would be an unfeasible choice, due to that fact that the site sits five miles from
the tip of Manhattan. During bad weather,
fog, or a heavy summer haze the view would be too obscure.
|KC rendering of wheel distance to Manhattan southern tip - Google view|
Also in 2004 backers of the London Eye planned to build s a
similar wheel which would stand at 450 feet (close to the London Eye’s height) on
the East River waterfront directly between Battery Park and the Brooklyn
Bridge. After a requested study done by
the backers of Maddame Tassaud’s Wax Museum, the plan fizzled.
|The London Eye|
Though the ferry service to Staten Island hauls an estimated 2
million tourists a year, most visitors turn back immediately without exploring
the Staten Island side. Besides the
commuters, most tourists take the ferry for the larger scope of the Manhattan skyline
and the up-close views of the Statue of Liberty. The area around the ferry terminal on Staten
Island has been neglected and run down for decades with little or no retail or entertainment. The proposed giant wheel and its connected amenities
would spark a revitalization of the area.
Though some Coney Island lovers would fantasize about having a new
gargantuan icon erected near the boardwalk to go along with its shiny new major
features, surely an observation wheel at 600 feet high fits best where the
islands of the metropolitan area meet. Of
course, other Coney lovers would balk at the idea of overshadow its current
iconic structures, anyway
But a perfectly situated attraction like an observation wheel at
any great viewing spot in New York City would generate big business. The London Eye at 443 feet tall has been slowly
churning on the South Bank of London at the Thames River for 12 years and each
year attracting 3.5 million visitors.
London’s iconic attraction wheel is operated by The Merlin EntertainmentGroup, the second largest attraction operator in the world Only
second to the Disney Company and bigger than Universal.
|Photo by Ethan Prater|
The fascination with mega observation wheels are reflected in its big
business around the world. Already wheels
have popped up in other major cities around the globe. Giant observation structures are being built or have already been built in Malaysia; Manchester, England; Singapore, and Melbourne, Australia, Berlin, Dubai, Beijing, Orlando and Las Vegas.
According to the New York Times; out of the 3.5 million visitors that
the London Eye and other wheels experience per year, on an average – most riders
usually pay $30 dollars or more for a half hour rotation. And usually a wheel
will come with other major developments at its base. At the foot of the observation wheels in both
Singapore and Melbourne, visitors walk through shops and eateries as they make
their way to boarding the structure.
Unlike the London Eye which has a slow queue line that wraps around it. But the competition for these wheels are much
like the race for skyscrapers; always building higher, more luxurious, and full
of boasting amenities.
The newer and more slick observation wheels boasts climate
controlled rotating capsules and hold about 30 to 40 visitors. Some hold events like business meetings and private
parties. Others come equipped with plasma screens and even bars. A smaller observation wheel, more like a
Ferris wheel, at only 152 feet tall in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan has proposed
perhaps the only indoor wheel. The base
of the structure is planned to house a bowling alley, a multiplex, a
restaurant, and even a planetarium. The
Wiener Riesenrad or Giant Wheel in Vienna, which was rebuilt in 1945 after the
original (1897) burnt down, boasts 15 spacious gondolas with several decked out
as formal dining carriages.
When it comes to wheeling and dealing, Las Vegas will not be left
behind. Along its flagrant strip, two two
observation wheel attractions are to be erected and add more neon to the night
skyline. One is already being in the
construction phase. The SkyVueobservation wheel near the Mandalay Bay will rise up 500 feet when completed
and stand higher than the hotel casino itself.
SkyVue’s developer Howard Bullock said, “Many others have been talking
about erecting an observation wheel in Las Vegas for years, we just decided we
were going to do it”.
In a fast moving technological world where only soaring higher and
pushing further seems to be the only way we can seek gratification from our
success and triumph. Colossal structures
that defy our natural bounds are becoming another fascination in our quest for reaching
and going over the limits for our amusements.
[Observation Wheels from around the world - after the jump]
|Non-Wheel Observation Attraction|
|Proposed for Las Vegas|