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The Ferris Wheel.

the ferris wheel

The intrepid Pietro della Valle reported that the ferris wheel was a large and sophisticated contraption at the Ramadan Festival in Constantinople in 1615. It was the beginning of his Pilgrimage to India.

The ferris wheel Peter Mundy stumbled upon in Philippopolis was:

“…like a Craine wheele att Customhowse Key and turned in that Manner, whereon Children sitt on little seats hunge round about in severall parts thereof, And though it turne right upp and downe, and that the Children are sometymes on the upper part of the wheele, and sometymes on the lower, yett they alwaies sitt upright.”

That was May, 1620 in the Balkan Ottomans. The contraption, known as a pleasure wheel, towered above a sea of Greeks and dancing bears, hill-top Bulgarians and flowered floats. It sat in the old Roman amphitheater and was a central amusement during the Feast of Biram.

the ferris wheel

I swear, the last time I visited the Colorado State Fair was 1988 with my friend Mike Montez.  The fair has been held in my hometown of Pueblo for over a century. What I can remember is hearing “Living on a Prayer” and going upside down in one of the rides and literally everything fell from my pockets, showering the people below with items I felt I couldn’t do without. I went there again last night, enraptured by the cowboys, the carnies, the clowns, the scammers,  the animals and the ridiculously obese.

When the sun set, I spent the majority of my time photographing the ferris wheel of the Colorado State Fair. Its not the biggest but it is wonderful – just because it is a giant wheel that lifts you up into the sky.

Over the last few years, there has been an inexplicable race to build the largest ferris wheel in the world. Even Baghdad is in on the race. But of course it will be the Chinese who will gain the title.  They’re aiming at sky, literally, with pleasure wheels approaching 220 meters in height.

It may be the symbolism of the contraption that is hard to avoid.

I’ll have some more pictures of the Colorado State Fair up next week.


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