Tuesday, September 24, 2013

poetic excerpts on Ferris Wheels by Elmore, Loy, and Fiske (1893-1909)

The surname of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. might still be familiar worldwide through his Wheel for the Chicago Fair. It's thought, not unreasonably, that "there's a very good chance that the first Ferris Wheel was actually inspired by the mightiest water wheel of its day -- the one that powered the Burden factory. The designs are remarkably similar and inventor George Ferris, an RPI graduate, studied the wheel while there" (Pasko).

Pasko, Jessica. "The Burden Ironworks Museum." All Over Albany. July 13, 2009. http://www.alloveralbany.com/archive/2009/07/13/the-burden-ironworks-museum

"New Children's Book Focuses on the Ferris Wheel." Inside Rensselaer 2(6). April 4, 2008. http://www.rpi.edu/about/inside/issue/v2n6/ferris.html

Nerich, John. "Ferris Wheel inspired by Troy history." Rensselaer Polytechnic. December 2, 2009. http://poly.rpi.edu/2009/12/02/ferris-wheel-inspired-by-troy-history/

There stands the novel Ferris Wheel,

        A band of human freight;

'Tis propelled by sprocket wheels

        At a thirty-minute rate.

Elmore, James Buchanan. "What the Hoosier Sees in Chicago." Love Among the Mistletoe and Poems. Alamo, IN: James Buchanan Elmore, 1908. 200-202.

As I strolled up Midway I met a new deal;

A lady was watching the great Ferris wheel;

She said: "Mr. Bluecoat, I'm needing a guide,

If you try the big wheel, I'll pay for the ride."

When we reached the car like a happy surprise,

The wheel began lifting us up to the skies;

While I looked at the world with all of its charms,

The lady fainted and fell into my arms.

The lady's husband, standing down in the crowd,

Kept shouting: "Such conduct should not be allowed!"

And when the wheel stopped and we stepped on the ground,

That man and a pounded skull quickly I found.

Loy, Daniel Oscar. "The Columbian Guard." Poems of the White City. Chicago, IL: Daniel Oscar Loy, 1893. 93-94.

I strolled up Midway Plaisance

        And tried the big Ferris swing,

Which goes so near to heaven

        I could hear the angels sing.

Loy, Daniel Oscar. "The World's Fair in a Day." Poems of the White City. Chicago, IL: Daniel Oscar Loy, 1893. 83-86.

If you should sleep while standing,

        You're very sure to feel

Like you are in the Midway,

        Falling from the Ferris Wheel.

Loy, Daniel Oscar. "Returning from the Fair." Poems of the White City. Chicago, IL: Daniel Oscar Loy, 1893. 97-99.


(The Ferris Wheel as seen from the "Whaleback" at night)

OUT of the gloom and thick darkness,

        Down from the North swiftly bound,

Plowing the depths of black water

        That covers the graves of the drowned—

Homeward we're moving with music,

        Homeward, the happy of earth—

When suddenly breaks on our vision

        A circle of glorious birth.

Slowly it rolls through the blackness,

        Luminous, glittering, round—

A circle of sky-born splendor

        Untouched by the groveling ground;

Steady it glows like a cluster

        Of planets bound in a chain—

A new-found constellation

        For men upon the main.

The north-shore lights stand sentinel,

        Like a bivouac picket line;

And the lifted Temple's starry crown

        Shines high as the city's sign;

But greater, fairer, fuller,

        On the background of the night,

Like an emblem of perfection

        Shines the rolling wheel of light.

And the sailor sings to his heart,

        As he nears the harbor flash,

The song of his love and the lights

        And the song of the rhythmic plash;

And ever his eyes look out

        For the circle in the night, And his eager heart is nightly lit

        With the rolling wheel of light—

A sailor's song for Michigan

        A rolling full and strong;

A sailor's song for the heart at home

        That draws my ship along;

A sad sea-song for the boys below

        Who sleep on the rifted sand,

And a round, full song, and a ho! ho! ho!

        For the lights upon the land.

Fiske, Horace Spencer. "The Wheel of Light." Chicago in Picture and Poetry. Industrial Art League, 1903.

The Ferris Wheel met an ignoble end:

"It required 200 pounds of dynamite to put it out of business. The first charge... wrecked its foundation and the wheel dropped to the ground... as it settled it slowly turned, and then, after tottering a moment like a huge giant in distress, it collapsed slowly. It did not fall to one side, as the wreckers had planned... it merely crumpled up slowly. Within a few minutes it was a tangled mass of steel and iron thirty or forty feet high. The huge axle, weighing 45 tons, dropped slowly with the remnants of the wheel, crushing the smaller braces and steel framework. When the mass stopped settling it bore no resemblance to the wheel which was so familiar to Chicago and St. Louis and to 2,500,000 amusement seekers from all over the world, who, in the days when it was in operation, made the trip to the top of its height of 264 feet and then slowly around and down to the starting point.

"Following the blast that wrecked the wheel, but which failed to shatter its foundations, came another charge of 100 pounds of dynamite. The sticks were sunk in holes drilled in the concrete foundations that supported the pillars in the north side of the wheel."

Tarantola, Andrew. "The Life and Explosive Death of the World's First Ferris Wheel." Monster Machines. February 28, 2013. http://www.gizmodo.com/5987466/the-life-and-explosive-death-of-the-worlds-first-ferris-wheel

(quoting the Chicago Tribune)

"End of Great Ferris Wheel." Syracuse Journal. June 2, 1906: 10 cols 5-7. [Cropped from a scan at fultonhistory.com]

The Burden Wheel seems not to have fared much better:

"The Burden wheel sat quietly rusting away for years (and well documented in photographs) until it was dismantled and taken away for scrap during World War II, I am told. All that remains is the pit in which it sat."

Rittner, Don. "Troy's Ancient Wonders." 1999. http://www.donrittner.com/his35.html

A Ferris Wheel Museum/Amusement Park might be interesting and fun… not that there's any money for such things. A working full-size replica of Burden's Wheel, a rideable full-size replica of the Chicago Fair Ferris Wheel, rideable replicas of antique pleasure wheels, an entry in the "Battle to Build The World's Next Tallest Ferris Wheel" (see e.g. http://www.ibtimes.com/wheels-fortune-battle-build-worlds-next-tallest-ferris-wheel-1408680 and http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/09/10/220986155/worlds-largest-ferris-wheel-takes-shape-in-las-vegas ), etc.

Binghamton, to some extent, has capitalized on its six municipal carousels in public parks with a claim to being the "Carousel Capital of the world" and a small Carousel Museum near one of the six. They hadn't been invented there, the city just happened to receive an unusual donation from George F. Johnson. The price of admission: a piece of litter! See e.g. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/939 and http://www.visitbinghamton.org/things-to-do/carousels/

No comments:

Post a Comment