Navy Pier will be closed to the public for two days next week — Jan. 19 and 20 — while its new Ferris wheel is installed.
The new attraction, coming all the way from Europe via boat, train and truck, will be constructed on those days, including assembly of key structural elements of the wheel’s frame.
The new Ferris wheel — a centerpiece of major redevelopment of the lakeside Grand Avenue site – begins the countdown to Navy Pier’s Centennial Celebration.
Fifty feet taller than its predecessor, the new ride — at 196 feet tall — will offer greater passenger capacity, longer and more comfortable rides, and more amazing city views, officials said. Offering temperature-controlled gondolas, it will also be open year-round.
On Tuesday, construction will include four massive construction cranes lifting the six legs of the Ferris wheel; assembly of the legs, measuring 120 feet in length and weighing 36,376 pounds; and lifting of the wheel’s center hub, which weights 36,000 pounds and will be 104 feet above deck, to be secured to the legs.
The Ferris wheel is expected to be ready for operation in time for the pier’s 2016 centennial celebration this summer.
The previous Ferris wheel, installed in 1995, was retired in October. It conducted more than 16.9 million rides for visitors in its 20-year history, officials said. And the new wheel is expected to shatter that record as it will accommodate 180 more passengers per ride.