Historic Ferris Wheel Returns to Phoenixville to Become 74-Foot Statue of Americana

Ferris wheel
Image via Jerry Carino, The Asbury Park Press.
Barbara Cohen of the Schuylkill River Heritage Center stands next to one of the Ferris wheel's carriages.

Phoenixville Borough Council has formally reserved a location where a Ferris wheel — that was built with Phoenixville steel and served, for almost 100 years, as the signature feature of the boardwalk in Asbury Park, N.J. — will return to its birthplace to become “74-foot statue of Americana,” writes Jerry Carino for The Asbury Park Press. 

Built with Phoenixville steel and installed in 1895, the Ferris wheel was one of four wheels created by the Phoenix Bridge Co., a subsidiary of Phoenix Steel Co. The other three ended up in Atlanta, Coney Island, and South Carolina, but the one that stood tall at the Jersey Shore is the only one that remains.

When its gears stopped turning in 1988, the Ferris wheel relocated to an amusement park in Mississippi.

In 2008, the Schuylkill River Heritage Center purchased it for $50,000, and it returned to Phoenixville in pieces.

Today, those pieces — the original carriages, the motor, and some of the connecting beams — are scattered throughout the borough.

Securing the land to erect the monument was a big hurdle, according to Barbara Cohen, president of the Schuylkill River Heritage Center, and another $600,000 is needed to complete the task.

“We need a platform, and it has to be anchored to the concrete,” Cohen said. “We’re going to get an image painted on the platform based on postcards of the Asbury Park waterfront.”

She has an idea for a fundraiser.

“This is very exciting for everyone,” she said. “My dream is to have Bruce Springsteen (whose music put Asbury Park on the map) hold a concert to raise money for it.” 

Read more about the historic Ferris wheel in The Asbury Park Press.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2022.

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