A Look at the New York Wheel on Staten Island, Currently Under Construction

Staten-Island, Staten-Island-Ferry, New-York-Wheel, S9-Architecture, Open-House, Perkins Eastman
Photo by S9 Architecture / Perkins Eastman.

On June 28th, Open House New York held one of its “Projects in Planning” panels, which highlights specific development projects taking place in New York City. This time, they hosted the team behind the New York Wheel, a 630-foot ferris wheel under construction on the Staten Island waterfront.

The New York Wheel is part of the larger plan by New York City and the NYCEDC to revitalize the St. George waterfront area on Staten Island. With the Staten Island Yankees, a 9/11 memorial and the North Shore Waterfront Esplanade already in place, along with a SHoP architects- designed retail and outlet mall, new developments at Stapleton and Lighthouse Point, it is hoped that this area of the borough can become a tourist destination by the wheel’s target opening in 2017.

“An important thing is to own the night,” said President and CEO of the New York Wheel Richard Marin. “After you’ve done Times Square and Broadway one night, we think we can own the second night.”

Staten-Island, Staten-Island-Ferry, New-York-Wheel, S9-Architecture, Open-House, Perkins Eastman, green-roof
Photo by S9 Architecture / Perkins Eastman.

As for the actual wheel, its height will make it temporarily the tallest observation wheel in the world – the Dubai Eye will surpass it eventually at just under 690 feet, but it will not be completed until 2019, according to Marin. Furthermore, the observation wheel will have 36 pods with 40 people per pod. This equals to a capacity of 1,440 people on the 38-minute ride.

“That means the Empire State Building has an uplift capacity, with its elevators, of 1100 people per hour,” said Marin. “The new One World Trade Center observation deck has an uplift capacity of 1100 people per hour. We have an uplift capacity of 2200 per hour.”

Richard-Marin, Staten-Island, Staten-Island-Ferry, New-York-Wheel, S9-Architecture, Open-House, Perkins Eastman

As for how to get on the ride, the capsules will be nicer than the London Eye, according to Jonathan Cohn, principal at Perkins Eastman. They will have a similar arc shape, but be spacious enough to comfortably fit 40 people, who will all have a good view of the city’s skyline.

The group currently estimates that the New York Wheel will attract 3.5 to 4 million people per year, with the ability to hold up to 12 million. But it is one thing to say these numbers, it is another thing to entice tourists and even New York City residents.

Navid-Maqami, Richard-Marin, Jonathan-Cohn, Staten-Island, Staten-Island-Ferry, New-York-Wheel, S9-Architecture, Open-House, Perkins Eastman

First, the group realized early on that in order to keep people coming back, they would have to renovate the surrounding area. “There was a park on the waterfront, which was nice, but we’ll make it a little nicer,” said co-founder and design principal of S9 Architecture, Navid Maqami, who is also in charge of the Empire Stores project in Dumbo. “We really thought about blurring the distinctions between architecture and landscaping.”

It is believed that elements like a green roof will play an important part in the process. This will include “five acres of publicly accessible grass space, al fresco dining, [accommodation for] events of up to 5,000 people and a children’s playground,” according to the New York Wheel website. “As people go in, it was really important to create places that people can really enjoy the views from the city,” said Maqami.

Staten-Island, Staten-Island-Ferry, New-York-Wheel, S9-Architecture, Open-House, Perkins Eastman, green-roof, New York-City
Photo by S9 Architecture / Perkins Eastman.

Finally, Marin is quick to point out that the Staten Island Ferry is the third most popular tourist attraction in New York: sitting comfortably behind the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. With a port already at St. George, this will certainly attract its fair share of people – if they have reason enough to get off the ferry.

The ferry plays such an important role that Marin specifically addressed driving to the vicinity. Even though they built a new parking garage, he is quick to point out how “crappy” it is to drive to the wheel.

“If no one drives to the wheel, I’d be a happy man,” said Marin. “We consider ourselves a harbor visiting experience. We’re not just running private ferries from midtown, but we will [eventually] run ferries from Queens, Brooklyn, Liberty State Park and New Jersey.”

Next, check out our visit Inside the Abandoned Staten Island Farm Colony, the abandoned buildings at Lighthouse Point next to the ferry, and read about new developments on Staten Island’s north shore.

 New York Ferris Wheel, staten island, Staten Island Ferry

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