Look, Up in the Sky!

Staten Island, Singapore and the World’s Largest Ferris Wheels

New York’s getting a record-breaker. Who will it top? A look at the world’s tallest. By Nina Strochlic.

Office of the Mayor of New York / AP Photo

On Thursday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to build the world’s tallest Ferris wheel in the now-attraction-less borough of Staten Island. At a soaring 625 feet, the ride would top the current record-holder, the Singapore Flyer, as well as the proposed High Roller in Las Vegas. “It will offer unparalleled and breathtaking views, and is sure to become one of the premier attractions in New York City and the latest exciting addition to our newly revitalized waterfront,” said Bloomberg. “[It will be] an attraction unlike any other in New York City in fact, it will be, we think, unlike any other on the planet,” he added. Except that, well, there are many similar ones across the globe. Since the first Ferris wheel was unveiled for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, there has been a constant competition to make the tallest wheel. Here are the other attempts at sending fair-goers higher and higher into the skyline.

By Nina Strochlic

Roslan Rasman, AFP / Getty Images

Singapore Flyer

Until Staten Island completes its Ferris wheel in 2015, Singapore will be able to boast its is the tallest. Soaring 541 feet into the sky, the four-year-old wheel is an incredible display of ingenuity. Within the 28 air-conditioned capsules, there’s a restroom, handicapped-accessible ramp, and champagne and cocktail service. The luxury came at a price—the first ticket cost $8,888 Singaporean dollars ($6,271 USD).

AP Photo

The Star of Nanchang

For two fleeting years, China’s Star of Nanchang held the title of tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Opened in 2006, the wheel reached 525 feet and required $7.1 million in investments.

Adek Berry, AFP / Getty Images

The London Eye

The London Eye is about to be bumped. At 443 feet, it’s the third largest Ferris wheel in the world and the biggest in the Western Hemisphere. The London Eye gives riders an aerial vantage-point of all of the city’s famous sites—on clear days you can see the top of Windsor Castle—and slow enough for them to enjoy the view—the wheel moves slowly enough that passengers can board and disembark without it stopping.

Xinhua / Landov

Suzhou Ferris Wheel

Four of China’s Ferris wheels hit 394 feet, including Suzhou Ferris Wheel. Neon lights illuminate the wheel’s outline, while the middle serves double duty: at night, commercials are displayed.

Robert Cianflone / Getty Images

Southern Star

Tied with the Suzhou wheel for height, Australia finished its $100 million observation wheel in 2008, but luck wasn’t on its side. The attraction was closed just 40 days after construction when operators found cracks in the steel, and they decided to start work on a new wheel.

ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images

The Tianjin Eye

It seems like a strange area for a romantic attraction like a Ferris wheel, but in China’s fifth-biggest city, the Tianjin Eye hovers over the Yongle Bridge. The only Ferris wheel in the world to stand on a bridge, the Tianjin Eye has cars passing by on either side.

Lennart Preiss / AP Photo


While modern technology has long outpaced the old Riesenrad Ferris wheel, it’s worth mentioning that it held the title of the world’s largest for over 60 years of its 115-years-and-counting lifespan. The wheel still operates in Vienna and was built for the 1897 Golden Jubilee of Franz Josef I. It sustained damage during World War II, but still operates—with half of the 60 carriages it originally had.