Workers brave cold in new Navy Pier Ferris wheel construction

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CHICAGO — The first support leg of the new Navy Pier Ferris wheel went up late Tuesday morning in blinding sunshine. U.S., Dutch and German flags blew in the frigid wind atop the 36,000-pound piece, each representing the workers involved with the design and construction of the pier’s massive addition.

The pier is closed Tuesday and Wednesday as six of the legs are being assembled and moved into place, before the center hub will be added and secured. More than two-dozen workers were at the site Tuesday — not only construction but also consultants and engineers, continually ground testing to ensure the structure beneath remains sound.

Construction at the pier has been ongoing for more than two months, readying the location for the nearly 1-million pound, 196-foot Ferris wheel.

When completed it will stand 50 feet higher than the old Ferris wheel, which sat at Navy Pier for 20 years. It will boast 42 air-conditioned gondolas offering visitors longer rides and spectacular views.

While not the largest in the U.S., the wheel is a higher tech upgrade with onboard entertainment and vibrant lighting expected to be ready by May and during the pier’s centennial celebrations.

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