Seattle World's Fair Anniversary
8:43 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Ferris wheel plans pit Seattle Center against Pier 57

A futuristic Ferris Wheel is causing a flap in Seattle. 

The Seattle Center has announced  it is planning to install an extra-tall "observation wheel" reminiscent of the British capital's London Eye.  It will go up in April and remain for 18 months on the site of the Fun Forest for the Center's 50th anniversary, commemorating the 1962 World's Fair. 

"The elegant and technologically advanced giant wheel harkens back to the World’s Fair and nods to a future vision for Seattle’s central gathering place,"  the announcement says. "The wheel’s fully enclosed and climate controlled capsules will hold up to eight passengers and provide 360 degree panoramic views of Seattle Center and the surrounding areas."

But the Seattle Times reports, the owner of Pier 57 is upset about the plan.  Hal Griffith, who has run the pier since 1964, says he announced his intent to buy a nearly identical wheel in October.  He says he needs something to offset the expected disruption of waterfront tourism during construction of the tunnel set to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. 

A Seattle Center spokeswoman says their plan was in place before Griffith made his announcement.  Deborah Daoust  says with the city's long permitting process,  the Seattle Center ride will likely be down by the time Griffith's waterfront version goes up.