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New York vs. Las Vegas: Duel for world's largest Ferris wheel

By Sho Wills, CNN
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013
The Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel is the first solar powered Ferris wheel in the world. With 160,000 energy efficient lights, nighttime rides feature lights illuminating the western end of Route 66. The Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel is the first solar powered Ferris wheel in the world. With 160,000 energy efficient lights, nighttime rides feature lights illuminating the western end of Route 66.
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Pacific Wheel: Santa Monica, California
SkyView: Atlanta
Big O: Tokyo
Wiener Riesenrad: Vienna, Austria
Singapore Flyer: Singapore
The London Eye: London
Cosmo Clock 21: Yokohama, Japan
Navy Pier: Chicago
The Texas Star: Dallas
Tianjin Eye: Tiajin, China
The Star of Nanchang: Nanchang, China
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Las Vegas is already constructing a 550-foot Ferris wheel for the Strip
  • New York City plans to answer the challenge with a 625-foot wheel in Staten Island
  • When opened, both wheels would best current champ "Singapore Flyer" at 541 feet

(CNN) -- When George Ferris unveiled the first Ferris wheel at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, it was meant to rival the engineering feat of Paris' newly constructed 1,000-foot-plus Eiffel Tower.

Now, more than 100 years later, New York City and Las Vegas are engaged in a contest with dueling plans to erect the world's largest Ferris wheel.

Developers in Las Vegas are building "The Las Vegas High Roller," a 550-foot Ferris wheel that will be the world's tallest when it opens on the Vegas Strip in 2014.

Not to be bested, New York City officials gave the go ahead Wednesday to a proposal for 625-foot wheel in Staten Island, which developers hope will be completed by 2016.

"The New York Wheel will be an attraction unlike any other in New York City -- even unlike any other on the planet," Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an enthusiastic advocate, said in a news release.

The wheel passed one of its final hurdles before it can begin construction when the New York City Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday for its approval. An affirmative vote by the City Council next month is all that is needed now for construction to begin.

Meanwhile, the wheel in Las Vegas is already well underway. Caesars Entertainment, the company that is building the wheel, tells CNN it will accept its first riders "early next year."

Caesars declined to comment on the proposed New York Wheel.

Rich Marin, the CEO of New York Wheel LLC, insists there's no bad blood.

"There's no competitiveness. Our markets are very different," he told CNN.

When opened, both wheels would best Asia's "Singapore Flyer," which at 541 feet is the largest wheel in operation.

However, even they may not retain the title for long. Marin tells CNN the designer of his wheel is working on an even bigger one in Dubai.

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