On June 21, 1893 George Washington Gale Ferris, debuted his newest invention, a 264 foot rotating upright wheel, the now eponymously named “Ferris Wheel.”
It only makes sense then that the Uniroyal Giant Tire, an 80 foot high, 12 ton wheel which doubled as a Ferris wheel should have debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair during the height of America’s love affair with the car. The giant Uniroyal Tire held 24 gondolas each carrying four people around the tire, all powered by a 100 hp motor. The interior of the tire is some 120,576 feet and were the tire to actually fit on a car, the car would be over 200 feet high.
Designed by the firm that designed the Empire state building, the Uniroyal tire received over two million visitors while on display at the fair, including Jacqueline Kennedy, the Kennedy children, and the Shah of Iran.
At the end of the fair, rather than being destroyed, the tire was dismantled and shipped in 188 sections via train to a Uniroyal sales office in Allen Park, Michigan. However the Ferris Wheel mechanics were stripped off the tire, making it simply a huge tire standing along Michigan’s I-94. Over the years the tire began to deteriorate and locals were known to take potshots at it with both guns and bows leaving the tire with a handful of arrows sticking out of it.
The tire received a makeover in 1994, adding a new –and rather ugly– hubcap, again in 1998 when a 11-foot high, 500-pound nail was placed into the half foot thick tread of the Giant Tire as part of a campaign for Uniroyals “Nailguard” tires. The nail has since been removed and put up for auction while the tire received a large, million dollar renovation in 2003.