Also known as the Millennium Wheel, it has also been called by its owners the British Airways London Eye, then the Merlin Entertainments London Eye, then the EDF Energy London Eye. Since mid-January 2015, it has been known as the Coca-Cola London Eye, following an agreement signed in September 2014.
The London Eye was designed by architects Frank Anatole, Nic Bailey, Steve Chilton, Malcolm Cook, Mark Sparrowhawk, and the husband-and-wife team of Julia Barfield and David Marks.
The design is similar to an enormous bicycle wheel, with a central hub and spindle connected to outer and inner rims by cable spokes. It is over 200 times larger than the average bike wheel.
The structure is 135 meters (443 feet) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 meters (394 feet).
When erected in 1999 it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. Its height was surpassed by the 158 meters (520 feet) tall Star of Nanchang in 2006. Today it is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and the fourth-tallest Ferris wheel in the world.
Construction of the London Eye took more than a year and a half to complete. In the process over 1,700 tonnes (1,870 US tons) of steel were used for the structure and more than 3,000 tonnes (3,300 US tons) of concrete were used for the foundations.
There are 32 ovoidal capsules, or one for each of the London boroughs. The capsules are numbered 1 to 33, with no capsule number 13 for superstitious reasons.
Each of the 32 capsules weighs 10 tonnes (11 US tons) and can carry 25 people.
The wheel rotates at 26 centimeters (10 inches) per second (about 0.9 kph or 0.6 mph) so that one revolution takes about 30 minutes. It does not usually stop to take on passengers; the rotation rate is slow enough to allow passengers to walk on and off the moving capsules at ground level.
Inside the capsule passengers can move around or sit in the chairs provided.
Thanks to the construction of the glass capsules on the outer side of the rim, London Eye Capsule Capsule the passengers have a great 360 degree view over London.
On each rotation the London Eye has the capacity to carry 800 passengers, which is equivalent to 11 London red double-decker buses.
It was built as part of London’s millennium celebrations.
The London Eye was opened formally by Prime Minister Tony Blair on New Year’s Eve 1999, but it was not opened for public use until March of 2000 due to technical issues.
Since opening, the London Eye has become one of the world’s most iconic landmarks.
It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually.
On a clear day you can see as far as forty kilometers (25 miles) – as far as Windsor Castle.
In one year the London Eye rotates about 3,500 kilometers (2,170 miles), which is the distance from London to Cairo.
The lighting was redone with LED lighting from Color Kinetics in December 2006 to allow digital control of the lights as opposed to the manual replacement of gels over fluorescent tubes.
Over 5000 couples have proposed on the London Eye since opening, most of these were in private Cupid’s Capsules accompanied by a host and Champagne.
The Olympic torch took a ride on top of the London Eye in 2012, held by 17 year old Amelia Hempleman-Adams, the youngest person to ski to the South Pole.
Since opening, the London Eye has been the focal point of the Mayor of London’s famous New Year’s Eve firework celebrations which sees hundreds of thousands of people congregate in the heart of London each year.
In September 2014, Coca-Cola signed an agreement to sponsor the London Eye for two years, starting from January 2015. On the day of the announcement, the London Eye was lit in red.
In 2013, the Red Bull Academy turned the Eye into a rotating nightclub. Every capsule saw one legendary club night come alive with the original line-up of resident DJs and superstar guests, from Fac51 The Haçienda to Fabric, Blitz Club to Boiler Room.
At one point during the London Restaurant Festival, the Eye turned into a pop-up dining spot: Celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud served meals in one of the capsules for ten patrons, each of whom paid a pretty penny—in some cases, upwards of $30,000—for the pleasure.
A revolutionary 4D film that brings a new dimension to the visitor experience, providing a completely new vision of the city that is both emotional and entertaining. The film is approximately four minutes long making it the perfect prelude to an experience on the iconic London Eye. It is located inside the ticket office and is included for free with all London Eye tickets.
Sir Richard Rogers, winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize, wrote of the London Eye in a book about the project: The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people, but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible, and it is in a great position at the heart of London.