China to World: Look Upon Our Spinning Wheel and Weep

We live in a world in which destination Ferris wheels are a thing — and they can be surprisingly powerful boosts to local economies. The most famous ones are outside the U.S. — the London Eye on the city’s South Bank and the Singapore Flyer, for starters — though the New York City Wheel, currently under construction in Staten Island, might change that. (Though it might not — the project is currently $300 million over budget and running a couple years behind schedule.) 

In the meantime? We have a newcomer to the field, the Bailang River Bridge Ferris Wheel in China’s Shandong Province. It’s notable for something it lacks: spokes. Doesn’t sound like much ’til you get a look at it, and the overall effect is uncanny: How’s it work? According to Lonely Planet, the project’s engineering is radically different from your typical Ferris wheel: “It operates by moving the carts on a running gear mechanism across the central wheel, which unlike typical Ferris wheel designs, is stationary.” (One chief design inspiration was, apparently, kites.) The wheel is about 30 feet taller than the London Eye, and each of the 36 carts has wifi and a TV screen. 

Construction is essentially complete, with safety checks underway. Let’s let them take their time with that