NYSSPE’s Engineer of the week features George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. who was an American civil engineer, born on February 14, 1859 in Galesburg, Illinois. He is best known for creating the Ferris wheel.
Ferris graduated RPI in 1881 with a degree in engineering and began to work in NYC designing bridges and tunnels. Shortly after, he moved to Pittsburgh and founded his own company, G.W.G. Ferris & Co. In 1891, the directors of the World’s Columbian Exposition challenged Americans to produce a structure that rivaled the Eiffel tower. Ferris took on the challenge with a vision to create a giant wheel ride inspired by a waterwheel that he had admired as a child.
In 1983 the wheel made its debut at the Exposition and was a huge success. However, the excitement about the wheel died down after the Exposition was over and Ferris passed away before the Ferris wheel design spread around the world.