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The Pacific Wheel at Santa Monica Pier

Pacific Wheel, Ferris Wheel, Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Pacific Wheel in Santa Monica Pier's Pacific Park. Los Angeles Almanac photo.

The Ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier’s Pacific Park, known as the “Pacific Wheel,” is the world’s first solar- powered Ferris wheel. It was part of the restored Santa Monica Pier opening in 1996. The original wheel was not solar-powered, when first opened, but modified, two years later, to use solar power. In 2008, the original wheel was replaced with a new $1.5 million wheel that featured energy-efficient, LED light bulbs that also offered an impressive computer-controlled light show. The new wheel also made use of the solar panels from the original wheel.

Pacific Wheel Numbers:

First Opened: The original wheel in 1996; the replacement in 2008
Height: 85 feet
Weight: 122,000 pounds
Spokes: 80 (40 on each side of the wheel)
Gondolas: 20, maximum six adults each; able to accommodate 800 riders per hour; single riders not allowed in any gondola
Cost: Original wheel $800,000; second wheel $1.5 million
Revolution: 2.5 revolutions per minute
Lighting: More than 174,000 LED lights for computer-controlled light shows
Powered: Generates more than 71,000 kilowatt hours from the sun; powered conventionally when cloudy
Restriction: Single riders are not allowed in any gondola

The original wheel, sold via eBay for $132,400, found a new home in Oklahoma City’s Wheeler District community, developed by local real estate mogul Grant Humphreys. Half the sale proceeds were donated to the Special Olympics.