Neighborhood Stories: Staten Island’s Wheel World


Riding the Staten Island Ferry is likely the best (and certainly the cheapest) way to get a feel for the expanse of New York Harbor, with outstanding views of the Statue of Liberty, the shores of Brooklyn, and, of course, downtown Manhattan. The longstanding challenge — for Staten Island boosters, at least — has been how to convince tourists and New Yorkers alike to stick around once they arrive on Staten Island, instead of just taking the ferry right back where they came from. The answer one borough advocate (who also happens to be a real estate developer) has come up with? The world’s biggest Ferris wheel, of course. Or, to put it more in line with its marketing, the world’s largest “observation wheel.”

Inspired by the success of the London Eye, which since opening in 2000 has provided tourists with a panoramic view of the British capital, developer Rich Marin got the city’s approval for the New York Wheel back in 2013, initially slating the project for completion by 2015. For a blissful 38 minutes, riders would float above the ground, getting a new vantage on New York City (and paying a pretty penny to do so: $25 by day, $45 at night). Like many New York development projects, however, the Wheel immediately became mired in behind-the-scenes infighting, with the price spiraling to more than double its original $300 million budget, leaving developers scrambling for more money and investors. The Wheel finally broke ground last year; four 100-ton pedestals were recently installed to support the structure, which is now slated to open in April 2018. Finally, tourists will have what they always wanted out of their visits to Staten Island: more impressive views of Manhattan.

Don’t miss the rest of the Village Voice’s guide to New York neighborhoods — by New Yorkers.