London Eye - It stands 135 metres (443 feet) high on the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames in Lambeth, London, England, between Westminster and Hungerford Bridges. It is adjacent to London's County Hall, and stands opposite the offices of the Ministry of Defence situated in Westminster which it overlooks to the west.
London Eye - Designed by architects David Marks and Julia Barfield, the wheel carries 32 sealed, air conditioned, passenger capsules attached to its external circumference. It rotates at a rate of 0.26 metres per second (about 0.9 km/h or 0.6 mph) so that one revolution takes about 30 minutes to complete.
The wheel does not usually stop to take on passengers; the rotation rate is so slow that passengers can easily walk on and off the moving capsules at ground level. It is, however, stopped on occasion to allow disabled or elderly passengers time to alight safely.
Structurally the Eye resembles a huge spoked bicycle wheel, and was depicted as such in a poster advertising a charity cycle race. The wheel is not the first of its kind, one much smaller used to stand opposite Earls Court station during the latter part of the 19th Century and which just like the Eye was for Londoner's and visitor's enjoyment.
The wheel was constructed in sections which were floated up the river Thames on barges and assembled lying flat on pontoons. Once the wheel was complete it was raised into its upright position by cranes. The wheel was initially lifted at a rate of about 2 degrees per hour until it reached 65 degrees, where it stayed for a week while engineers prepared for the second phase of the lift. The total weight of steel in the Eye is 1,700 tonnes.
The Eye was opened by British Prime Minister Tony Blair on December 31, 1999, although it was not actually opened to the public until March 2000 because of technical problems. Since its opening, the Eye, operated by Tussauds Group but sponsored by British Airways, has become a major landmark and tourist attraction. Recently, The London Eye was voted the world's best tourist attraction in a poll commissioned by the snack company Pringles.
The Eye enjoyed a warmer reception from the British public upon its opening than London's other significant Millennium project, the Dome, although the delay in opening had caused some press scepticism. By July 2002 around 8.5 million people had 'flown' the eye. It originally had planning permission only for five years, but at that time Lambeth Council agreed plans to make the attraction permanent.
Although the Eye is currently listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest observation wheel in the world, it is unlikely to keep that title for long. Plans have been announced to build a 170 m wheel on the Las Vegas Strip and a 200 m wheel in Shanghai. (By comparison, the original 1893 Ferris wheel was 75 m high).
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