First Ferris Wheel Came From New York Not Chicago As Many Believe
February 14 isn't just Valentine's Day. It's also a day to honor the Ferris Wheel that actually originated in New York, not Chicago as many believe.
The first 'official' Ferris wheel was created by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Ferris based his design on the Somers wheel that was unveiled a year earlier in 1892. He was ultimately credited with the invention after winning a patent fight in court.
However, 52 years earlier, a smaller version of the ride actually debuted at the New York State Fair.
Samuel Hurst and James Mulholland were working on the Erie Canal and had nothing to do in the winter of 1849. So they began to build a 50-foot revolving wheel using a man-powered rope and pulley system based on a similar ride Mulholland had seen in his native home of Scotland. The ride, which seated only four people at a time, was unveiled at that year’s New York State Fair. The wheel was eventually sold to a hotel owner who installed it on Baldwin Island before later shipping it to Albany for another fair.
So while there may be a little controversy over which version of the ride is truly revolutionary, it’s agreed that the modern-day Ferris wheels that stand on the NYS Fair Midway haven’t strayed too far from the original design, whether it originated in 1849 or 1893.