The Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel is located in the Prater park, a former imperial hunting reserve which was opened to the public by Emperor Joseph II in 1766. When he decided to do so, viennese noblemen protested saying that they wanted to be "among their pairs" when going for a walk through the Prater. Joseph II answered: "If I always wanted to be among my pairs, I would have to go walking in the Imperial crypt!". The Prater park very quickly became popular among Vienna's inhabitants and the early foundation of the "Wurstelprater" amusement park within its boundaries made it even more attractive.
The Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel was built in the "Wurstelprater" amusement park in the year 1897 to celebrate the 50th government anniversary of Emperor Frances Joseph I. Planned by the British engineers Walter Basset and Harry Hitchins, it stayed property of Walter Basset until World War I. Only in 1916 was it confiscated because of the British citizenship of its owner. According to the existing documents, it was foreseen to take the Giant Ferries Wheel down, and it was saved only because funds were not sufficient for its destruction! After the end of the war, the Jewish businessman Eduard Steiner bought the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel in an auction and ran it until his property was confiscated by the Nazi regime in 1938. Eduard Steiner was murdered in the KZ Auschwitz in 1944, on the same year the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel caught fire and was almost entirely destroyed. Between 1945 and 1947, the Giant Ferris Wheel was rebuilt, but equipped only with half of the original thirty waggons.
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