Chicago World's Fair Exhibit Inspires New Generation of Innovators in Kyiv

Posted by Kristen Hickman
July 9, 2010
Ferris Wheel Photograph Featured at U.S. Embassy Kyiv

About the Author: Kristen Hickman serves as Public Affairs Officer for the Art in Embassies Program.

Secretary Clinton's travels this week included Kyiv, Ukraine, where this photo appears in the U.S. Ambassador's residence as part of a special exhibit focusing on the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. This pivotal event in U.S. engineering and architectural history celebrates innovation and technology.

Planners for the World's Fair were looking for ideas that were "original, daring and unique." Yet they dismissed 33-year-old George Washington Gale Ferris as a crackpot when he first proposed the idea of a revolving observation wheel. Nevertheless, Ferris found engineers to back up his plan and investors to supply the $400, 000 to build it. At its opening on June 21, 1893, the Ferris Wheel became the eye-catching attraction of the entire fair.

When it was built, the Ferris Wheel was considered the model of efficiency and engineering. The wheel was 264 feet high, the supports were 140 feet high, and the axle -- the largest piece of steel ever forged in the United States - weighed 46 1/2 tons. The wheel carried 36 elegantly outfitted passenger cars, each of which could fit 40 people sitting or 60 people standing. The wheel was spun by either of two 1,000 horsepower steam engines, and stopped by an oversized air brake.

Today, the Chicago World's Fair serves as inspiration for a new decade of inventors and engineers. This photo along with 23 other photos and objects from the event appear on temporary loan arranged by Curator Sally Mansfield with the Office of Art in Embassies. Art in Embassies cultivates public-private partnerships worldwide to provide dynamic, culturally-significant visual arts for U.S. diplomatic posts.



District Of Columbia, USA
July 10, 2010

Anna in Washington DC writes:

The George Ferrises of the world help us dream big. Thanks for the interesting posting!


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