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The Staten Island Ferris Wheel

Rating: 11 votes, 5.00 average.
OK, I havenít exactly made up my mind on whether this is a good idea, but itís going to happen. New York City in its wisdom will be building the largest Ferris wheel in the world and it will be located on Staten Island, my home town borough. Quick New York City geography lesson: NYC is made up of five boroughs Ė Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island (, the last one there the smallest, least populated, least known, often called the ďforgotten borough,Ē and the home borough of yours truly. We are an island to the south of Manhattan and west of Brooklyn linked to civilization through our famous Staten Island ferry and four bridges, the most stately of them named The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Staten Island is almost exclusively residential, and so does not attract much tourism, especially when weíre competing with the rest of NYC.

So the politicians are always scheming on attracting some of the large tourist crowds from The City. (People from the outer boroughs refer to Manhattan as ďThe City.Ē Whether that reference has a tone of contempt or affection varies, but usually itís contempt.) Yes we have the ferry that crosses the harbor in front of the Statue of Libertyóand itís a free ride!óbut the typical tourist breaths in the harbor sea air, snaps photos of that green lady with the torch as he sails by, might hum a patriotic song if heís an American, lands on Staten Island, and then promptly turns right around back on the next boat to The City. I doubt he even ventures out of the ferry terminal. How do we get these fat money-pouched, excursionists to open their pocketbooks here?

How about a Ferris wheel, and given this is New York City, the Big Apple, The Capital of the World, The City that Never Sleeps, how about the biggest Ferris wheel in the world? (

Staten Island's Wheel: An idea whose time comes round again
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012

NEW YORK -- The Ferris wheel may be a steam-age invention, but it is back in vogue in New York, which this week joined a long list of cities where urban planners or developers have bet that massive, modern versions of the old ride can serve as economic engines.

After the towering London Eye debuted in early 2000, it seemed as if there was no end to the number of cities dreaming about stimulating tourism by building their own giant observation wheel, modeled after the one drawing 3.5 million riders per year in Britain.
Re-creating London's success has proved to be daunting, with failed or postponed projects in a number of world-class cities. But the concept still has luster. Work is being done on two new massive wheels in Las Vegas. Seattle saw a smaller version open on its waterfront last spring.

Now, the biggest test yet will come in New York, where city officials announced Thursday that a private development group had been given approval to build the world's tallest Ferris wheel, at 625 feet, on the waterfront in Staten Island.

The proposal, with a $230 million price tag, is audacious. Its success would rely on people being willing to travel by miles by ferry across New York Harbor to a remote, mostly suburban part of the city that has always been an afterthought to visitors.
This has been talked about for some time. I didnít think it was really going to happen. I guess it will. Iím torn on whether this is a good idea or not. There will be a shopping mall and hotels there, which if priced better than those on Manhattan would be an ideal spot for tourists to anchor themselves. Sure the view will be magnificent, no question about that. Youíll have a view of the entire harbor, the New York skyline, a number of the distinct New York bridges such as the Brooklyn and Verrazano Bridges, the Atlantic Ocean, both eastward along the Brooklyn/Long Island coast and southward along the New Jersey coast. 625 feet (190.5m) is over fifty stories high! Thatís almost half way up the Empire State Building! Thatís almost as high as the towers of the Verrazano Bridge! Thatís high. I donít know if the chairs will be open air, but if they are I might experience acrophobia up there. I can almost feel the tingles going up and down my spine right now.

So whatís not to like, you might ask? If youíre tremble kneed, a chicken livered milksop, you donít have to go up. True enough. If you donít want to encounter annoying tourists, yakking away in some foreign language I canít understand or an American accent thatís not New Yawk , you donít have to venture over. Again, true enough. But itís quite possible that this will become an integral part of the Staten Island identity, our moniker, our tag, our sobriquet. And I will have to look at it. While I donít live by that area, at that height it will probably be visible from almost any location on Staten Island. We donít really have many tall buildings here. It will change the character of the landscape. Do I really want that structure as part of my every day sight? Do I want to be known as living in the place with the big wheel? I donít know if I do.

Here are some artist renditions of what it will look like.

And look at this sketch posted by some poor person who currently lives in an apartment with a magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline that will now be interrupted with the Ferris Wheel.

Postscript: Apparently the people over in Coney Island (Brooklynís historic amusement section, are upset that the wheel is coming to Staten Island:

Coney Island boosters argued that the move that would steal the Peopleís Playgroundís spotlight and pit the outer boroughs in a wheel war.

ďThe city needs to stay focused on rebuilding Coney into a first-class major tourist destination,Ē said Zigun. ďIt shouldnít encourage competition with Coney within the five boroughs.Ē

But if such a competition took place, Brooklyn would cream Staten Island, crowed the boroughís biggest booster.

ďThe city should consider what location will provide the biggest bang for the buck, and the strongest economic return, and no doubt that place is Coney Island,Ē Borough President Markowitz said.

Go shove it Brooklynites. Who died and left you in charge?

Ah, no one hates New Yorkers as we hate ourselves.

So what are your thoughts? Is this a good idea?


  1. Hawkman's Avatar
    Interesting about the proposed Ferris Wheel. It does seem to be a prerequisite that a City that wants to think of itself as ďwith itĒ feels it needs one. Living as I do in the provincial backwater of Plymouth, I can report that even our movers and shakers, at whose pronouncements the earth remains coldly indifferent, believed that we needed one. Not so grand as the proposal for NY of course, and our geography is such that the location chosen does not impinge on anybodyís view, but it is big enough to be visible on the skyline from most places around town. It does provide a good view of the Sound and back over the city. What I can report though, is that Iíve never seen anyone queuing to go up in it, and Iíve never seen it with more than about 3 cars occupied. And certainly not full.

    Anyway, the ground ours occupies is now desired by a developer who wants to build some equally pointless thing in its place. Consequently they are threatening to dismantle it next year. The local populace, who donít use it, now consider this a sacrilege, depriving the skyline of a much loved landmark. (itís only been there for about 5 years) and are up in arms about it. I confess, I quite like to see it there myself, but essentially, it just a construction, a thing plonked down on The Hoe with about as much relevance as a statue.

    Of course, Plymouth isnít the Big Apple and hardly rates as an international tourist destination, but I wonder how popular a distraction the wheel would prove to be in New York. I can certainly sympathise with residents who would have their view impaired by having the thing stuck in front of their windows. The size of the thing and its presumed prestige, would also make it a great big target for a potential terrorist attack. Even if it just breaks down, how the hell would you get anyone down from it?

    Canít really see that it would do much for the local economy, except for the lawyers whoíll make a fortune from people who want to fight its erection, or get it taken down.

    Live and be well - H
  2. qimissung's Avatar
    Hmmm, Virgil, don't you think they'd be better off leaving it to Staten Island officials and citizens to develop ways to encourage tourism to their little part of the world? I mean once they get there and then ride the ferris wheel what else is there to do or see?

    It's hardly an original idea. Plymouth has one, London has one, Dallas has one-yes, the largest one in North America.

    I've ridden it. It's very slow moving, and the only time it's really available to the public is during the state fair, which starts this week, by the way, people.

    It doesn't seem like a good use of resources, but somehow I don't think they'll be listening to me.
  3. LadyLuck's Avatar
    I'm not sure I would want that in my line of sight. That said, if they lit it up nicely it could be nice.
  4. qimissung's Avatar
    It definitely ruins the skyline.
  5. Virgil's Avatar
    I was thinking the same thing on the terrorist target. Why is it so popular that every city feels they need one? That's too bad it flunked in your city. By the way I looked up Plymouth and it doesn't strike me as a backwater. For some reason I had thought Plymouth was up north by Scotland. It's right by Cornwall. Isn't that the most beautiful part of England?
  6. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    The ruined skyline would be my concern, particularly if I lived in one of the apartments with a good view. I also agree with Qimi- this is an observation wheel, not a ferris wheel in an amusement park. What other incentive will this plan offer to get people to travel ALL the way out there? I don't necessarily see how this plan will rival Coney Island, since both are different experiences. BUT in the end, if I didn't have to stare at it from my kitchen sink, I'd go and visit it. In fact, I'd go to both places- love Coney Island (well, sort of).
  7. Virgil's Avatar
    I guess we're going to top you.

    I thought the same thing, what's so original? And it's the Staten Island officials who have pushed for this. It's possible, perhaps even likely, that it will be a big hit. They will have shopping there and a hotel, which would just be a quick ferry ride over to Manhattan. Hotels in Manhattan are at least a couple of hundred dollars a night.

    The reactions in the local paper today were mixed. Those against it say if it's a hit, it will be at the expense of those who already live here. That's probably true. The ferry is already crowded and there is little parking in that area.
  8. Virgil's Avatar
    @LuckyLady and Buhbee

    Yeah I think the cost benefit analysis didn't include property values dropping from loss of view.

    The Cyclone ( is pretty cool in Coney Island, but the rest doesn't do much for me. But then again I get motion sickness. The only incentive is for all those tourists who take the Ferry ride to get out and check the wheel. It really will be a great view.
  9. Virgil's Avatar
    Here's an update from today's paper. There will be "36 air-conditioned glass units, each able to carry up to 40 passengers." A ride will be 40 minutes long and be open 365 days a year, weather permitting. It will be called "The New York Wheel."

    Boo! They didn't have the decency to at least call it The Staten Island Wheel. Now I'm really against it.
  10. qimissung's Avatar
    My heart's all broken that it will be bigger. If it's being built to promote Staten Island, why isn't it being called the Staten Island Wheel? That just doesn't make sense.
  11. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    The London Eye is massively successful. I was recently talking to a lady from Sweden who is working in London at the moment, and she said it's the one thing that she and all her friends who have visited have done, and they all enjoyed it immensely. I guess if you're in London for a day it's a great way to take in the famous sites without having to suffer travelling across the city. It helps, though, that the Eye is situated on the Thames and most of the key tourist attractions are situated on or close to the river. It's not really in a residential area either, but very close to the Houses of Westminster. I can't say it appeals to me, though my husband has been on it and said it was okay but a bit boring. On the back of the success of the Eye, a number of other cities have tried it out and failed to replicate that success. I've never been to NY, but I doubt I would go on the 'New York wheel' if I did.

    I have, however, been on the Bristol Eye and can confirm it was thoroughly boring, and not a great experience for someone who suffers from vertigo
  12. Virgil's Avatar
    Now why has it been so successful in London and not elsewhere? I hope people who decided to build here looked into that. I was only in London once in 2003 and the Eye was relatively new. I had not heard about it and when I walked up to it I said to myself in sarcastic tone, what genius decided to put a Ferris wheel right on the Thames. In retrospect it turns out to be a good idea. At the time for me it seemed out of place with the centuries old architecture, especially Westminster. I did not go up the Eye. I only had a day to myself and I wanted to see as much as possible. Who knew I could see as much as possible from the top!
  13. Virgil's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by qimissung
    If it's being built to promote Staten Island, why isn't it being called the Staten Island Wheel? That just doesn't make sense.
    Because we are the forgotten borough. In 1994 we tried to secede from New York City and form our own city. It actually went up as a referendum but it lost. I think I voted against it. We would lose all the tax revenue from all those corporations in Manhattan.