Bringing It Home
The World's Columbian Exposition was a mammoth undertaking: It cost more than $27 million to build, covered 633 acres and attracted more than 27 million visitors.
The star of the show, in many ways, was the first Ferris wheel, built by George W. Ferris, who wanted to create something that would rival the highlight of the 1889 Paris World's Fair: the Eiffel Tower. Ferris's wheel, like the expo itself, was huge. The wheel had a diameter of 250 feet, and at its height reached 264 feet. The 36 wooden cars each held 60 people. A ride consisted of two revolutions and cost 50 cents.
The first Ferris wheel was dismantled in 1906. Of course, that wasn't the end of Ferris wheels. And they seem to be getting bigger. In London, the Millennium Wheel is about 443 feet tall. And in Las Vegas there are plans for a 600-foot-tall wheel.
The Ferris wheel wasn't the only innovation introduced at the Chicago world's fair. Also making a first appearance were Cracker Jack, Shredded Wheat and Juicy Fruit gum. And the fair was the U.S. debut for the hamburger.