Vying with Eiffel, this engineer wanted to create big, an admiring account said the Obelisk of Luxor is too short to be a spoke

In the latest episode of Jeopardy aired on June 12, 2024, contestants faced a compelling final question under the category “Famous Names.” The clue provided was, “Vying with Eiffel, this engineer wanted to create big, an admiring account said the Obelisk of Luxor is too short to be a spoke.” This clue not only tested the contestants’ knowledge of engineering history but also their ability to connect historical hints to the correct figure.

Who is George Washington Gale Ferris Jr?

George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. is best known as the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, an engineering marvel first introduced at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Born on February 14, 1859, Ferris was a civil engineer by training and an entrepreneur at heart. His creation was meant to rival the Eiffel Tower, which had been unveiled four years earlier at the 1889 Paris Exposition and had since captured the world’s imagination.

Ferris’s wheel stood as a bold testament to human ingenuity and the spirit of the American Industrial Age. With a height of 264 feet, the original Ferris Wheel was an engineering feat of its time, featuring 36 cars capable of holding up to 60 people each. This invention not only demonstrated Ferris’s engineering prowess but also his vision to dream big, quite literally aiming to outdo Eiffel’s iconic tower.

The comparison to the Obelisk of Luxor in the Jeopardy clue highlights an interesting aspect of Ferris’s ambition. The Obelisk, standing at over 75 feet tall, is an ancient symbol of human achievement and architectural prowess. By mentioning that even this massive structure could serve merely as a ‘spoke’ in Ferris’s design, the clue underscores the colossal scale Ferris envisioned, which was inspired by, yet distinct from, Eiffel’s work.

Ferris’s designs did more than provide entertainment; they symbolized the technological advances of the era and the shifting American landscape, which was increasingly characterized by larger-than-life industrial projects. The Ferris Wheel, therefore, is not just an amusement park ride but a symbol of audacious engineering goals that characterized the turn of the 20th century.

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