Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Then And Now: The Great Wheel

While going through some old family photos I happened on one of those studio photos with the image glued onto a stiff cardboard backing that served as a frame. This particular picture was of a turn of the last century attraction in London - the Great Wheel - and bore the original signature of Walter B. Bassett, who bought the European rights for the design from James Graydon, constructor of the original wheel - which was built in the US for the 1893 Chicago Exposition. Our photo (above) was taken circa 1905. Work on this wheel began in 1894, it opened to the public in 1895 and was torn down in 1906 or 1907.

Fast forward 100 years from the date on that photo (give or take a couple of years) to my first morning on one particular trip to Thailand, where I'd arrived from the airport at the Pinnacle Hotel in the middle of the night. On my way to breakfast a handful of hours later I'd walked to the windows at the end of the hall to see the view and was surprised to see a slightly smaller modern version of this mechanical giant sitting next to Lumpini Park, a few blocks away. What made it all the more surprising was that I'd just found the old photo a few weeks before seeing the wheel in Bangkok.

Not being a fan of heights I didn't explore the attraction any further, but was tickled to see a "now" for the "then" photo, safely tucked away in a box back home.


Dimi said...

Interesting... I guess this big wheel isn't in Bangkok anymore, or has been move some place I've not been to.

khunbaobao said...

Correct, Dimi - sorry I wasn't clear about that. It was a few years ago. Friends who were in London last year (I think it was) said there's another there now.

Dimi said...

Indeed, there is one giant wheel in London, just by the Thames (I went there about 6 months ago).
From up there you can get a pretty good view of all the city around (provided it's not too much smoggy...), but be prepared to pay big pounds and queue during quite a long time to be able to get in.

khunbaobao said...

I doubt you could ever get ME up in it, but that's impressive! Obviously the one in Lumpini was smaller than the ones have been in London. Still, an odd sight in Bangkok. Thanks, Dimi.