Seattle Great Wheel
|Address||1301 Alaskan Way|
|Town or city||Seattle|
|Construction started||April 17, 2012|
|Opening||June 29, 2012|
|Owner||Great Western Pacific (Griffith family)|
|Height||175 feet (53 m)|
|Design and construction|
|Structural engineer||Chance Rides GeoEngineers, B&T Design and Engineering|
|Main contractor||Manson Construction|
The Seattle Great Wheel is a giant Ferris wheel at Pier 57 on Elliott Bay in Seattle, Washington, United States. With an overall height of 175 feet (53.3 m), it became the tallest Ferris wheel on the west coast of the United States when it opened on June 29, 2012.
The inauguration ceremony and opening to the public was on June 29, 2012. Participants in the ceremony, which took place at 2:30 p.m., included a presentation of colors by the US Coast Guard, a speech by Seattle mayor Michael McGinn, and entertainment by the University of Washington cheerleaders, spirit team, and marching band.
Approximately 200 people lined up for the first ride on the wheel. Tickets cost $13 per person, with discounts for children and seniors. One luxury VIP gondola with red leather seats and a glass floor is available and costs $50 per person.
Construction and design
Seattle was the third city in North America to offer a wheel of this design, following the Niagara SkyWheel at Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Canada, which is also 175 feet (53 m) tall, and the larger Myrtle Beach SkyWheel in South Carolina, which is 187 feet (57 m) tall. The Seattle wheel is the only one of the three to be built over water.
The Seattle Great Wheel has 42 climate-controlled gondolas, each able to carry up to eight passengers (except the "VIP" gondola, seating four), giving a maximum capacity of over 300. The 12-minute ride extends 40 feet (12 m) out over Elliott Bay.
Seattle businessman and waterfront developer Hal Griffith has envisioned a Ferris wheel on Elliott Bay for nearly 30 years. Along with his family, he is the owner of the Pier 57 upon which the Seattle Great Wheel is located. In addition to the wheel, the pier is the location of Miner's Landing, which consists of souvenir gift shops, tourist attractions, and variety of seafood restaurants.
During the 1980s, Griffith began developing plans to ensure the perpetual existence and success of the family's business ventures on the pier. His plans had long included continual development of the waterfront on Puget Sound to provide entertainment and recreational opportunities for tourists and local residents. His goal was to drive success through innovative ideas, staying a step ahead of the competition. Griffith often met logistical and political roadblocks that inhibited development on the waterfront, but he was determined to build the Ferris wheel on Pier 57, located adjacent to the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
During development and acquisition of the wheel, the State of Washington, King County, the City of Seattle, and the Port of Seattle solidified plans to dig a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which had been damaged in an earthquake in 2001. The plans included creating an underground tunnel that would run beneath the city's downtown core. The initial phase of demolition and removal of the viaduct began on October 21, 2011.
The new tunnel is scheduled to open between late 2015 and early 2016. While the traffic issue would be resolved, the plans call for bypassing the businesses on the waterfront, hindering development on the bay. Griffith was concerned that without a large tourist attraction, many waterfront businesses would suffer and go out of business during construction. The Seattle Great Wheel was designed to resolve these issues and draw visitors to the waterfront.
While Griffith applied for building permits in November 2010, the project took approximately three years to complete. General work outside of actual building included retrofitting the pilings that support the pier.
- "Seattle: What's New?". visitseattle.org. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- Sullivan, Jennifer (June 29, 2012). "The Seattle Great Wheel opens to a big crowd". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2012-07-02.
- Nolasco, Joanna (June 1, 2012). "Structures: 170,000-pound wheel on the pier? That’s a tall order!". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved 2012-07-02.
- Laura L. Myers (June 29, 2012). "Seattle's new landmark Great Wheel opening on waterfront". Chicago Tribune. Reuters. Retrieved 2012-07-02.
- Levesque, John (June 2012). "Recreation: Big Wheel". Seattle Business Magazine. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- Kugiya, Hugo (June 29, 2012). "What ‘Seattle process’? Big wheel turns up fast". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved 2012-07-02.
- "Grand opening of Seattle's Great Wheel". seattlepi.com. June 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- Frequently Asked Questions - Seattle Great Wheel
- "Seattle Great Wheel". Seattle Great Wheel. September 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
- "Seattle's Great Wheel opening pushed back to June 29". KING-TV. June 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- "Miners Landing - Pier 57 Seattle Washington". Pier57seattle.com. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- Gutierrez, Scott (October 22, 2011). "Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, demolition begin". Seattle P-I. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Seattle Great Wheel.|