Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thanks, Mr. Ferris!

This past weekend, the city of Woodhaven hosted the Uncle Sam Jam. We all know who Uncle Sam is but what does he have to do with jellies and preserves?

Oh wait. Jam as in music. I get it.

Believe it or not, this event is free. Somehow, someway, they manage to get bands here that have made quite a name for themselves.  Sure, some of the bands are surprisingly still together. Their hey-day has come and gone.

Take last years line-up.  Great White. Yes, THAT Great White. Night Ranger?  They're still around?  

This year?  Candlebox.  Sure, they still tour, but who woulda thought they would be in Woodhaven?  Skid Row? I'm serious. Of course, Sebastian Bach is no longer in the band, so one could argue it does not matter.  

So, sure, I could have seen some bands, but I really wasn't up for that.  Nah, I was all about photographing the name-sake of George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.  

The year was 1891. With the World's Fair just two years away, planners for the event issued a challenge - build something cooler than the Eiffel Tower.  "Original, daring and unique" were apparently the words they used.  

Mr. Ferris, a railroad guy and bridge builder by trade, whipped up his plans and presented them to the panel.  They dumped it. Safety was a big issue (and rightly so).  After other reputable engineers reviewed the specs (Mr Ferris was a determined guy) and basically said "Yeah, this'll work..." , the panel finally agreed.  

With a capacity of 2,160 people (holy crap!), Mr. Ferris' Wheel, as you might imagine, became quite a hit.  A highlight might be considered the nine-minute non-stop rotation.  That sounds like a good ride to me!

While his original was demolished by 1906, Ferris Wheels continue to dot the global landscape.   The original stood what is now considered an anemic 264 feet tall.  The largest currently standing?  The Singapore Flyer at 541 feet.  Not to be outdone, the those crazies in Dubai are currently building one (The Eye) that will stand 689 feet at a cost of 1.6 billion dollars. Meanwhile, people around the world continue to starve....

In any case, the wheel at the Uncle Sam Jam was a far cry from the Dubai Eye. How tall was it? I don't have a clue.  I do bet, however, that if Mr. Ferris could see it today, he would be pretty proud.  

This particular wheel had lights that changed color and position. As it rotated during the 1-second exposures, the lights formed crazy patterns.  I have dozens of images showing greens and purples, lines and dots.  What fun.  I look forward to trying more images in the future.

Thanks, Mr. Ferris!

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