Steel Shots: Navy Pier’s New Wheel

Chicago’s new Navy Pier Ferris wheel under construction earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Navy Pier) 

A new, taller Ferris wheel was recently installed at Chicago’s Navy Pier. The nearly 200-ft wheel will open on May 27 and kick off the city’s Centennial Celebration.

The previous wheel, which was installed in 1995, conducted more than 16.9 million rides for Pier guests and visitors throughout its 20-year history. The new wheel — which will be about 50 ft higher than its predecessor — is anticipated to shatter that record as it features a larger capacity (180 more passengers per ride) and will operate year-round with temperature-controlled gondolas. It will also include safety measures that allow it to withstand intense storms and winds up to 115 mph.

The 100-million-lb wheel, designed by Thornton Tomasetti, is comprised of 300,000 lbs of structural steel, 500 cubic yards of concrete and eight micropiles driven 150 ft below deck into bedrock. The center hub is supported by six steel legs, each 120 ft long and weighing 36,000 lbs. Many of the wheel's pieces were built in Europe and shipped to the U.S. before arriving on rail to Chicago.

For more information and photos of the wheel installation, go to