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The wheel deal: As the St. Louis Wheel opens, let's not forget the others

The wheel deal: As the St. Louis Wheel opens, let's not forget the others
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St. Louis loves a Ferris wheel.

Well, maybe only when and where it suits us.

In 2008, a proposal for a 175-foot wheel at Laclede’s Landing couldn’t get enough financing. In 2017, residents booed a plan to put a 180-foot wheel in the University City Loop.

Dreamers proposed putting a wheel along the Gateway Mall downtown, as well as at the St. Louis Zoo expansion site across Highway 40 (Interstate 64). Those were mere suggestions — upturned pies in the sky, so to speak.

Smaller “pleasure wheels” go back to the 17th century, but Ferris wheels got their name from George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., a railroad bridge builder who designed the great wheel for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

That’s the same wheel that was taken apart and put together again in Forest Park for the 1904 World’s Fair.

The fascination with such wheels, also called observation wheels, continues here and abroad. On Monday, the new 200-foot-tall St. Louis Wheel opens at Union Station’s St. Louis Aquarium complex. Along with it: an 18-hole mini-golf course, a carousel with 30 animal rides and chariots, and a Soda Fountain in the old Hard Rock Cafe space. In December, the aquarium is expected to open. 

The St. Louis Wheel's twin is the Capital Wheel at National Harbor on the Potomac River in Maryland, just outside the nation’s capital.

And while these wheels are big, they're no match for the 550-foot High Roller in Las Vegas, currently the world’s largest observation wheel. The High Roller will be outdone by the Ain Dubai, or the Dubai Eye, which is set to open in 2020. It’s a whopping 689 feet tall.

Let's take a spin on some of St. Louis' big wheels, past and present, shall we? 

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