Opinion - Atlanta needs an all-seeing eye

A Ferris wheel downtown? Sure, why not.

Some of you might think that the idea of a Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta is but the latest in a decades-old string of proposals best described as moronic. The World of Sid and Marty Krofft, anyone?

But hold on.

Downtown might not be fit for a theme park (unless the theme happens to be ghost towns or zombie apocalypses), but let me go on record and say that Ferris wheels are effing awesome. So what if the wheel in question, modeled after the wildly popular London Eye, is expected to cost as much as three other proposed downtown attractions combined? Who needs the College Football Hall of Fame, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and a pirate (yes, pirate) museum if you've got a 443-foot revolving wheel with climate-controlled cabins that seat up to two dozen tourists apiece?

I'm pretty sure there are studies that show huge crossover between college football fans and fans of Ferris wheels. Civil Rights proponents? Huge Ferris wheel enthusiasts. And can you imagine the line of pirate-lovers snaking toward the Great Eye of Atlanta? I can't conceive of a more Ferris-wheel-embracing demographic than pirates.

Rather than waste our time (spin our wheels?) angling for this museum or that — especially when we're talking about things like a NASCAR museum (which majorly flopped in Charlotte), a patriotism museum (which majorly flopped in Atlanta) and a health care museum (oh, that's exciting) — why not aim higher?

In 1893, Chicago — in an attempt to best Paris — built the first-ever Ferris wheel as a sort of F-you to the Eiffel Tower. George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.'s idea for a 264-foot wheel revolving around a 142,000-pound axel was so grand, so ambitious, it seemed almost insane. But the wheel was a hit. It even withstood a frightening windstorm and provided a view of the deadly fire that raged through one of the buildings in Chicago's surrounding World's Fair.

Yeah, we're 107 years behind Chicago on this one. But so what. We're about 107 years behind Chicago on most things. And anyway, we have a better aquarium.

Still not sold? Well, just imagine the view: Buckhead to the north, Stone Mountain to the east, Hartsfield to the south and the Bellwood Quarry to the west. If only we'd thought of this sooner, we could have seen the Union soldiers and the zombie apocalypse coming.

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