Located on the South Bank of the River Thames in London, the London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel. Also known as the Millennium Wheel, the official name was originally given by British Airways, however it is now been branded as the Coca-Cola London Eye. It was opened by Tony Blair, the previous Prime Minister, on December 1999. However, due to technical problems, it was not opened to the public until March 9th, 2000.
Named after George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., the Ferris Wheel is a structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with multiple passenger-carrying components attached to the rim. Usually these attached components are referred to as passenger cars, cabins, capsules, gondolas, or pods. Sometimes the Ferris Wheel is called a Big Wheel, Observation Wheel, or Giant Wheel. Some of the largest, modern Ferris wheels have gravity-oriented cars mounted on the outside of the rim with electric motors to rotate each car and to keep it upright. The original Ferris Wheel designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr, was a landmark for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The term “Ferris wheel” is generally used for all such structures which are now most commonly found at amusement parks and state fairs in the United States.
Today, the London Eye is one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the world. The London Eye in London, UK was built in 2000 at 135 metres tall. It continued to be the largest in the world until the “High Roller” was built in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2014 and stands at 167.6 metres tall. The London Eye was designed by several architects: Frank Anatole, Nic Bailey, Steve Chilton, Malcolm Cook, Mark Sparrowhawk, and the husband and wife team of Julia Barfield and David Marks. Currently Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, the London Eye provides the highest public viewing point in London. It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.5 million visitors annually and is considered an icon of the London skyline. Sir Richard Rogers, winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize as written that “The Eye had done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people, but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible, and it is in a great position at the heart of London.”