March 24, 2012

Ferris Wheel Park

Neighborhood Amusement Park
within the District of Lake View 
After the annexation of the City of Lake View the area was known/referred to as the District of Lake View until the establishment of official Chicago communities by 1930
Art by Armando Pedroso
'In 1890, the U.S. Congress decided that the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America should be located in Chicago, and accordingly, on April 9, the State of Illinois licensed the corporation known as the World's Columbian Exposition to prepare for this grand event. The Corporation’s directors, in October, 1890, appointed the rising architect, Daniel H. Burnham, Construction Chief and delegated to him autocratic powers. Burnham, architect of the first “skyscrapers,” was a good bet to score a smashing success, both for the Exposition and for himself£ At this early stage, he was chiefly concerned at the lack of participation by America’s civil engineers.  Seeking to stir them into action, he arranged to speak before the “Saturday Afternoon Club,” an informal group of architects and engineers who were interested in the Fair. Their gatherings had served as a sort of public opinion poll on many of the architectural and engineering structures of the Exposition.
Seated in the audience was a tall, slight young engineer with a pale, resolute face. This was George Washington Gale Ferris, at that time the senior partner in a firm specializing in building steel bridges. Thirty-two years old, he had been educated at the California Military Academy and Rensseler Polytechnic Institute, where he received an engineering degree in 1881. For several years, he had worked on railroads and mining ventures and was one of the first to make a profession of testing materials & structures.' - Hyde Park Historical
Designer George Ferris
photo - Chicago History Museum
 postcard - Ebay
a side view - Ebay
a view from a glass plate negative
photo - Ebay
Harper's Weekly 1893
 a zoomed view of the carriages
‘The original Ferris Wheel, sometimes also referred to as the Chicago Wheel. With a height of 264 ft it was the tallest attraction at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, where it opened to the public on June 21, 1893. It was intended to rival the (1,063 ft) Eiffel Tower, the center piece of the 1889 Paris Exposition.' -  boyl-timo, a seller at Ebay
photos - Ebay
'The wheel rotated on a 71-ton, 45.5-foot axle comprising what was at that time the world's largest hollow forging, manufactured in Pittsburgh by the Bethlehem Iron Company and weighing 89,320 pounds, together with two 16-foot-diameter cast-iron spiders weighing 53,031 pounds. There were 36 cars, each fitted with 40 revolving chairs and able to accommodate up to 60 people, giving a total capacity of 2,160. The wheel carried some 38,000 passengers daily and took 20 minutes to complete two revolutions, the first involving six stops to allow passengers to exit and enter and the second a nine-minute non-stop rotation, for which the ticket holder paid 50 cents. The Exposition ended in October 1893, and the wheel closed in April 1894 and was dismantled and stored until the following year. It was then rebuilt on Chicago's North Side, Lincoln Park [Wrightwood & Clark], an exclusive [residential] neighborhood. 
This [in turn] prompted William D. Boyce, then a local resident, to file a Circuit Court action against the owners of the wheel to have it removed, but without success. It operated there from October 1895 until 1903, when it was again dismantled, then transported by rail to St. Louis for the 1904 World's Fair' - Hyde Park Historical Society
photo - Glen Miller, Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
Construction photos in 1893
The assemble of the axle with

photo via Glen Miller-Original Chicago on Facebook
As mentioned above, the wheel rotated on a 71-ton, 45.5-foot axle comprising what was at that time the world's largest hollow forging, manufactured in Pittsburgh by the Bethlehem Iron Company and weighing 89,320 pounds, together with two 16-foot-diameter (4.9 m) cast-iron spiders weighing 53,031 pounds.
photos - Chicago History Museum
notice the worker climbing a cable
photos - Ebay
The wheel stood 264 feet tall and took 20 minutes 
for the 36 luxury cars to make one revolution

According to the 
Chicago Tribune - 1893
The Next Location 
Planned in 1894
Moving to Clark Street
February 26 1895
from Property Owners
for the Planned Development
 in February 28th 1895

Other Plans for 
Lake View in 1895

 The Move to the
District of Lake View
Ferris Wheel Park
photos - Ebay
photos - Ebay
a view from Drummond Place once know as Sherman Place
and probable entrance to the park
photo via Jeff Nichols
photo below - Brad Wentling 620 w Drummond 
Chicago Daily Tribune 
above 1896 ads 
below ad 1899
below ad 1901 
1902 below
from Lincoln Park
double fold 1906 postcard - from my collection
zoomed view of below
A View from the North Pond Lagoon
this postcard is from my collection
a view from the park
 1895 negatives - Chicago History Museum
exact location unknown
Some Closer Views
image above - 'Challenging Chicago' by 
Perry Duis & donated Jackie Arreguin
this 1894 Sanborn Map highlights the 
pre-construction site
This 1894 Sanborn Map highlights the pre-construction site of the park - lot #1 parallel to Drummond Place (Sherman Place) east of Clark Street, south  to Wrightwood, Clark Street to what will be Lehmann Court - an alley back then.
I blocked in the area of park below

stereograph - Ebay
zoomed below
A view of the park 
in 1899
photo - 'storeyofchicago'
photo - Man on Five
 A streetcar on the move on Clark Street traveling south from the
  car-barn (garage) called The Limits 
which were a couple of garages in one location
1894 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
a 2019 Google Map view from Wrightwood & Clark with a closer look of the building at 538 Wrightwood??
shows the same building highlighted in the video
an aerial 2019 Google Earth view below X marks the spot
and the location of the man
1901 photo via  Lance Grey-Chicagopedia-Facebook
1895 negatives - Chicago History Musuem
stereoview - Ebay
My guess this is a view from looking southwest
A Typical Streetcar Used at the Time
to get to the Park
postcard image - Ebay
A View on Drummond Place (Sherman Place)
west of Clark Street
 J.J. Sedelmaier via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
Google Map east view on Drummond Place
Brian Wolf via Forgotten Chicago on Facebook with a 
by Brad Cornelius  

A testimonial of the photo view
According to a Forgotten Chicago contributor on Facebook, David Zornig, believes “just north of Wrightwood, there are still some odd shaped lots behind the old post office and the small hotel that used to be a movie theater; hence the odd driveway to the right of the hotel entrance. I believe that driveway was the lobby entrance. There's a picture of it on Cinema Treasures, but I don't recall the theater name. To the South of the current McDonald's, was the Playdium bowling alley that was there until the `70's. My grandfather sanded the lanes there. One could see from the McDonald's lot North, that there was a large enough strip of lots behind Clark St. storefronts, to accommodate something that size.” 
Local Resident Opposition
Ferris Wheel Park was established in 1896 in the area south of Diversey on the corner area of Clark and (Sherman) Drummond in the new formed District of Lake View in Chicago.
Shortly after, and with vocal citizen opposition from a newly formed civic group called the Improvement and Protection Organization (IPO) the owners of the new park had to file for bankruptcy in 1900 due to lack of local community support and general citywide patronage. The lack of support of the park was due to its location within a residential subdivision. The residents of this newly annexed area were not fans of the owner of the park - Mr. Yerkes who owned the Chicago Electric Street Railway - owned and operated streetcars on Evanston (Broadway) Avenue and Clark Street. 
Mr. Yerkes managed to extend his Clark Street operation to  Drummond Place (Sherman Place) exclusively for his amusement park. The carbarns (garages) was end of his northward expansion of this operations, hence the carbarns were called The Limits.
Mr. Yerkes tried to circumvent city governmental agencies to acquire property for his company without due process.  In other words, he was trying to create a Great America Amusement park experience in a middle of a urban residential neighborhood that was not appreciated by the locals.
The 1895 Re-Assembly? 
negative - Chicago History Museum
Construction or re-construction photo - not sure
view from Sherman Place - Drummond Place
1899 photo above - Man on Five
image below - Art Institute of Chicago
of the dis-assembly or assembly
photo - Living History of Illinois and Chicago-Facebook
 photo via Ron Kolman Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
my thanks to Ron Tamulis 
contributor to my sister site LakeView Historical/Facebook
on the source location of this negative
a Chicago Daily Tribune 1899 advertisement below
a 1901 Program Booklet
 images -Chicago Public Library

Troubles at the Park 1896 
marking the end of the park
Coney Island 
Wants the Wheel in 1902 
But The Ferris Wheel Found a 
New & Final Home By 1906  

It's new home in the City of St. Louis 
The wheel was purchased by the Chicago House Wrecking Company at auction and brought to St. Louis for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition where it was owned and operated by them according to an expert on the subject of the Ferris Wheel.

It's Demise in 1906
September 2021

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These posts are exclusively used for educational purposes. I do not wish to gain monetary profit from this blog nor should anyone else without permission for the original source - thanks!

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