Prague 5 plans a riverside Ferris wheel
Reaction to the proposal has been mixed, with many questioning the need for such a thing
The Prague 5 Town Hall has approved a plan that will include a 60-meter Ferris wheel on the waterfront at Hořejší nábřeží. It would be near an existing skate park and a cafe.
The idea is to make a romantic spot for locals and tourists that provides a view of the city. The Prague 5 administration hopes it will join Prague Castle and the zoo as top attractions.
Similar Ferris wheels like the London Eye in England's capital have become icons of their home cities.
The Ferris wheel in Prague 5 would be built at the expense of the company that rents the location from the city. The wheel should be ready 18 months after the lease for the site is agreed upon, according to Prague 5's website. Rent for the site is Kč 56,500 per month.
The wheel would be built by the company Dutch Wheels, which has worked on similar projects in London, Paris and Seattle.
“Hořejší nábřeží is one of the few options in Prague where the observation wheel could be located. It is easily accessible, a few minutes from the metro, and incidentally at a ferry landing, with a pleasant pedestrian access along the waterfront, while also being outside the residential zone, so it will not disturb local residents. At the same time it does not interfere with the panorama of the city. In addition, this significant technical building fits perfectly into the once-industrial Smíchov location close to the railway bridge,” Prague 5 Mayor Radek Klíma said.
“Sitting at the water by the wheel, with a playground and refreshments will be a great experience for all generations,” he added.
Discussions with civic organizations and environmental groups still need to take place, but the wheel should have a small base that will not require any major reduction of green space, the Prague 5 website claims. The plan still also needs to get zoning and building permits.
The Ferris wheel is just one part of a plan to revitalize the waterfront area of Prague 5. Other elements include development of Dětský ostrov (Children's Island) and the northern part of Císařská louka, an artificial peninsula in Smíchov. The Prague 5 district is currently undertaking an urban planning study for the long-term development of the area.
A final part of the revitalization plan is promotion of sporting and cultural activities in Prague 5.
While the Prague 5 Ferris wheel is projected at 60 meters, it is far from the record. The largest one in the world is High Roller in Las Vegas, Nevada, rolling it at 165.6 meters. It opened in 2014. The London Eye, at 135 meters set the record in 2000 when it opened, but now is merely in fourth place.
Prague's wheel would be the same size as ones in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Baku, Ho Chi Minh City and United Arab Emirates.
Reaction to the plan on social media has been mixed. “It is a joke, right?” one person commented. “I thought it was a hoax, but it is not,” another said, questioning the economics of the project as well as who would benefit the most financially.Several people said that the location by the river is too low for a good view, and that Smíchov in not the most scenic locale One added it would be better on top of Letná park, where the metronome now stands. Another pointed out that Prague has many towers and viewpoints already.
Another, though, said that Žžkov TV Tower was originally scorned by the public but is now accepted as a landmark, and the same will happen with the wheel.
The moderator of the Prague 5 Facebook page stressed that the wheel would not involve any investment on the part of the city district and would not be diverting funds from other city projects. The view from 60 meters was also defended, as from there one can see much more than just the industrial section.
The original Ferris wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was 80.4 peters tall and intended as the American answer to the Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 Paris Exposition.
The original wheel was moved several times before being destroyed with dynamite in 1906.
Concept art of the Prague 5 Ferris wheel can be seen at www.praha5.cz
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