George W.G. Ferris
Class of 1881
Patroon, Leader, Founder
Ferris began his career in the railroad industry and pursued an interest in bridge building.
Foreseeing an increase in the use of structural steel, he founded G.W.G. Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh, a firm that tested and inspected metals for railroads and bridge builders.
When the chief of construction for the World’s Columbian Exposition challenged America’s civil engineers to produce something to rival the Eiffel Tower of the Paris Exposition, Ferris’s imagination was fired.
He conceived the Ferris Wheel, which rose 250 feet and carried 36 cars, each with a capacity for 40 passengers, revolving under perfect control, and stable against the strongest winds from Lake Michigan.
The daring and accuracy of its design and the precision of the machine work of its construction won the admiration of engineers and the joy and wonder of generations.