Atlantic Cities
Photos

Meet Seattle's 'Baby London Eye'

Seattle's newest attraction, a Ferris wheel known as the "Great Wheel," officially debuted last Friday.

While it might not overtake the Space Needle in popularity, it will provide an attraction for a neighborhood that is experiencing disruptions in the way of a new, $3.1 billion tunnel scheduled to open in 2016. That tunnel is being built to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. In the meantime, officials hope having a tourist anchor for the area will help ease the inevitable loss of traffic and business from the construction. As a result, a $20 million, privately-funded Ferris wheel can now be found along Pier 57.

In a Reuters report, the wheel's co-owner, Kyle Griffith, referred to it as being "like a baby London Eye." The wheel is 175 feet tall while London's reaches 443 feet. Singapore has the world's tallest, the Singapore Flyer, coming in at 541 feet tall. 

The gondolas on the wheel are enclosed and climate-controlled with one car featuring a glass door and leather seats, able to host dinners and cocktails for special occasions.

A ride on the Great Wheel costs $13.50 and lasts 12-minutes. Via Reuters, images from the wheel's debut:

Christina Orr-Cahall of Seattle takes in the waterfront panoramic view from inside a gondola at the 175-foot apex of the Seattle Grand Wheel on its opening day on Pier-57 in Elliott Bay, Seattle, Washington June 29, 2012. Seattle's newest tourist landmark, a 175-foot-tall (53-meter-tall) Ferris wheel, will begin rolling on Friday as the tallest continuously operating wheel attraction in the United States, a theme park analyst said. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Jan Drago (L) and Charles Knutson use their mobile devices to shoot photographs and video of the waterfront panoramic view from inside a gondola. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante 

Some of the 42-climate controlled gondolas are seen as final preparations are made shortly before the opening of the Great Wheel. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Final preparations are made shortly before the opening of the Great Wheel. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante 

One of the 42 climate controlled gondolas is seen as final preparations are made shortly before the opening. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante 

A tourist takes a photos as final preparations are made shortly before the opening. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Some of the 42 climate controlled gondolas are seen as final preparations are made. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Construction crews work from a crane on a floating barge as final preparations are made. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante 

Construction crews work on final preparations shortly before the opening. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante 

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

Join the Discussion