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Eye on Staten Island: world's biggest Ferris wheel coming in 2015

New York City officials envision the Ferris wheel doing for Staten Island what the London Eye did for the south bank of the Thames – making it a top tourist destination with great views.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / September 27, 2012

This image shows an artist's rendering of a proposed 625-foot Ferris wheel, billed as the world's largest, planned as part of a retail and hotel complex along the Staten Island waterfront in New York.

Office of the Mayor of New York/AP

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New York

New York has more than its share of “big wheels” riding the streets in stretch limos and shuttling to their weekend oceanfront cottages in helicopters.

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But starting in 2015, it will be able to claim it has the biggest wheel – a Ferris wheel that will be larger than the Eye in London, taller than the Singapore Flyer, and beating out the planned High Roller wheel in Las Vegas.

The as-yet-unnamed New York Wheel – the working name for the moment – will be 625 feet tall, which is 84 feet higher than the Singapore wheel, which is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. It will be built on the waterfront on Staten Island only a short walk from the Staten Island ferry terminal.

“The Ferris wheel will be Staten Island’s Eiffel Tower,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York. “The Ferris wheel will be iconic – people will send postcards to their friends and relatives, you’ll find its picture on refrigerators and coffee tables around the world, people will get engaged on it, children will be born on it, milestones will be celebrated on it.”

Senator Schumer, who was at the press conference announcing the project with other officials, recalls visiting the London Eye with his family several years ago. “You see it as you land and you say, ‘I want to go there,’ ” he said. “The same thing is going to happen here.”

At least that’s what officials hope. The Staten Island ferry, the third most popular tourist destination in New York, carries about 2 million tourists a year. But most of them just hop off the ferry at St. George terminal in Staten Island and then catch the next ferry back to Manhattan. Officials envision the $230 million New York Wheel as a way to keep them on Staten Island.

The Eye “brought people to that part of London, and it will bring people to this part of Staten Island,” said Schumer. One suggested name: the Staten Eye.

The major attraction of the new Ferris wheel will be the “breathtaking” views, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Riders will look out across New York Harbor and will see the Statue of Liberty, which is 305 feet from ground level to the tip of the torch, as well as the New York skyline. The Verrazano Bridge will be visible, as well as parts of New Jersey. Riders will look down on a baseball stadium where the minor league Staten Island Yankees play.

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