today in 1892 an engineering team working on Chicago’s Columbian Exposition approved a design for a giant metal wheel that could give rides to passengers.
We know it today as the Ferris Wheel.
The Exposition was what Chicago called its World’s Fair, and the World’s Fair was one of those events where cities and countries tried to outdo each other.
The showpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, for example, was the Eiffel Tower.
Chicago’s team wanted to show that their event could do everything Paris had done and more.
The exposition’s lead architect, Daniel Burnham, had one rule for his designers: “Make no little plans.”
Burnham said no to a lot of those plans, but he liked one idea from an engineer named George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.
The 33 year old was in Chicago to inspect the fair’s steel, and one day he dreamed up a giant metal wheel that would revolve and carry passengers up and down.
It wasn’t the first rotating wheel, but it was certainly the largest.
Burnham liked the scope of Ferris’s wheel, but he wasn’t sure the steel supports could actually hold people all that way up.
So Ferris spent $25,000 of his own money to double-check the design.
Eventually he got the green light and built a wheel that was 250 feet in diameter and included more than 100,000 parts.
It was a huge hit: more than a million people paid the 50 cents to ride.
And Ferris wheels eventually spread all over the world, though the original did not last much longer than the exposition.
It was sold to the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 in St. Louis, and turned into scrap two years later.
Today in 1962, Nepal adopted its national flag.
It’s the only non-rectangular national flag in the world.
Its two pennants represent two parts of its royal family, and the Nepali Constitution spells out the precise instructions on how to make the flag.
Always check the instructions!
Photo by Feltkamp via Flickr/Creative Commons