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I swore I would never again go downtown. At least, not unless I was going to a football game. You see, anyone who knows Atlanta knows that downtown is one of the lesser boroughs. It’s not as clean. It’s dominated by the capitol and the courthouse and all the ugly government buildings in-between. Underground Atlanta, once a neat tourist attraction, is now but a shell of its former self, and probably a good place to get mugged. The only truly worthwhile part of downtown is the strip between Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. and Centennial Olympic Park Dr., where the aquarium, World of Coke, College Football Hall of Fame, Olympic park, Philips Arena, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium reside.
As I walked by Centennial Olympic Park on my way to the Georgia World Congress Center, I saw the giant Ferris wheel they opened in 2013. I had wondered since I first heard about it why the hell we needed a Ferris wheel. Sure, they put them up at amusement parks and state fairs, but here was one just randomly set up for the long haul in the middle of the city. Why? I didn’t get it. If you want a nice view of the city, there are plenty of other places to go.
Then I started putting together the pieces. Chicago has the very first Ferris wheel in Hyde Park. I always walk past the famous one at the Santa Monica pier whenever I visit Los Angeles. New York City has one at Coney Island and is pouring millions into a second one on Staten Island. Dallas has one at the state fair grounds and is working on a second one expected to be 500 feet tall.
Hell, big city Ferris wheels are even an international phenomenon. Paris has one on Place de la Concorde. London has one right on the Thames. Even Rome has one in its Lunear Theme Park. The list goes on and on. Major cities everywhere are getting in the Ferris wheel game. I’m not sure why there is even a correlation between having a Ferris wheel and being a major city, but here we are. And I’m not talking about little pop-up Ferris wheels they have for these traveling carnivals. I’m talking about large, imposing Ferris wheels that have become landmarks. It’s almost as if you have to have one to be a city that, well, matters.
I highly doubt Ferris wheels are even cash flow positive. There’s no way. From what I’ve heard, the Staten Island Ferris wheel is going to cost a couple hundred million dollars. Honestly, I think just showing your city can afford a large Ferris wheel that no one needs or uses is just a bunch of dick waving to show how great your city is. “Yeah, we have the excess money to build an outdated amusement park ride because why the hell not?” It’s a municipal power move. So, I guess if you want people to take your hometown seriously, put up a 200+ foot Ferris wheel with climate controlled seats and take your game to the next level. It’s apparently that simple. .