SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A 150-foot Ferris wheel set to be constructed in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as part of the parks 150th anniversary celebration in April received final approval Wednesday night.
The towering centerpiece of Golden Gate Park’s 150th birthday celebration is set to spin after a final blessing at City Hall. From its sheer size to whether it is appropriately suited for the park’s music concourse between the De Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, critics and supporters of the massive observation wheel addressed the city’s historic preservation committee Wednesday.
“Golden Gate Park is historically a landscape park, not an amusement park or a carnival,” said one speaker opposed to the Ferris wheel.
“The enormous scale of the structure…it’s probably equivalent to a 10-story building,” worried another.
One question seemed to dominate the discussion: What would John McLaren, the man who built this park, think of this Ferris wheel?
“The wheel will be close to our bowling green, and I plan to ride it,” said Christine Raherl of the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club. “And I bet John McLaren would ride it.”
Not everyone agreed.
“John McLaren would not have ridden this observation wheel,” argued Vice President of San Francisco Heritage Woody LaBounty. “John McLaren did not want statues in his park. He certainly wouldn’t have wanted a 150-foot Ferris wheel.”
SF Rec & Parks officials say the wheel is perfectly suited for the concourse. They call it the centerpiece of the park’s birthday celebration.
“It hearkens back to the Midwinter’s Fair in 1894 when there was a big observation wheel,” said SF Rec & Parks spokesperson Sarah Madland.
The committee, however, did have address several concerns.
“Let’s look at it again,” said Arthur Feinstein of the Golden Gate Audubon Society. “Maybe we can mitigate the impacts, reduce the lighting, reduce the timing.”
Members agreed with that concern and now the wheel’s lighting could be reviewed. And then there was the question of how long the Ferris wheel would remain in the park.
The committee agreed to approve the wheel on the condition that it will not last past its proposed lifespan. The Wheel will be installed in March and open to the public on the park’s celebration day on April 4th, but is required to be dismantled after one year has passed.