WBEZ | NYC http://www.wbez.org/tags/nyc Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en NYC wants a turn: Big Apple seeks to build world's largest Ferris wheel http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-10/nyc-wants-turn-big-apple-seeks-build-worlds-largest-ferris-wheel-102799 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11623966-standard.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The world&#39;s largest Ferris Wheel &mdash; four times the size of the one at Navy Pier&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;is being planned for a shoreline site on New York&#39;s Staten Island, according to the New York City&#39;s mayor&#39;s office.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The 625 ft. tall wheel would have views of Manhattan and would feature an outlet mall, retail and a hotel. The mayor&#39;s office said private funds were being raised to finance the $230 million project. The &quot;New York Wheel&quot; is expected to hold more than 1,000 passengers. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014. In an Associated Press story on the wheel&#39;s announcement, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said the big device would be &quot;Staten Island&#39;s Eiffel Tower.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;This is a<em> very </em>big wheel,&quot; NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during its announcement last week. The idea was among proposals the city solicited for the site.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Good luck to the Big Apple. But Chicago did the same thing&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;even referring to the Eiffel Tower as comparison, 119 years ago. The Ferris wheel debuted here as a signature piece of the famed 1893 World&#39;s Fair. Built in the fair&#39;s midway &mdash;&nbsp;the present day Midway Plaisance that runs past the University of Chicago campus&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;the spinning 264 ft. colossus was only about 40 ft. shorter than downtown&#39;s Masonic Temple, then world&#39;s tallest building.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The wheel was the brainchild of George Washington Gale Ferris, a 34-year-old engineer. His idea was well-received by world&#39;s fair planners who wanted an attraction that rivaled the Eiffel Tower, which had been the darling of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in France. Here&#39;s the Ferris Wheel at the fair. The gondolas were as big as present day &quot;L&quot; train cars:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo_ferris_wheel_chicago.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">After the fair, the wheel was dismantled and reassembled at Clark and Wrightwood where it was to be the titular attraction of the planned Ferris Wheel Park, a venture not unlike the one planned for Staten Island. The park would have included a theater, restaurant and other attractions, but it never materialized.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The wheel was re-erected in 1904 for St. Louis&#39; world&#39;s fair, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The engineering marvel sat abandoned for a year after the fair closed. It was demolished in 1906, courtesy of 200 lbs. of dynamite.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But the wheel&#39;s allure remained. For more than a century after its destruction, the Ferris Wheel has become a mainstay of carnivals, fair grounds and amusement parks across the world. The 541ft. Singapore Flyers is currently the world&#39;s largest Ferris wheel. The 150ft Navy Pier Ferris Wheel is the 9th largest wheel in the U.S.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 05 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-10/nyc-wants-turn-big-apple-seeks-build-worlds-largest-ferris-wheel-102799 Checking in: Chicago theater stars holding their own in NYC http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-02-16/checking-chicago-theater-stars-holding-their-own-nyc-82390 <p><p>In New York last week, I caught up with three theater muck-a-mucks with Chicago connections: director Gary Griffin, performer Andre De Shields and actor/writer Charles Busch.</p><p>At this very moment Griffin is enjoying a two-week holiday in Costa Rica, and he's earned it, having had two Chicago productions running at the same time, &quot;As You Like It&quot; at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (through March 6) and &quot;The Mikado&quot; at Lyric Opera of Chicago. He also found time for a concert staging of &quot;Lost in the Stars&quot; for New York's City Center Encores! Series, with which Griffin has been associated for some years. I saw &quot;Lost in the Stars,&quot; the 1948 musical by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson based on Alan Paton's novel, &quot;Cry, the Beloved Country.&quot; The musical adaptation is a simply-told but deeply affecting tale of South Africa at the time Apartheid was becoming official government policy in the late 1940's. Its tale of two fathers, black and white, who bridge the racial divide through mutual grief, remains profoundly moving. It may be Weill's most richly melodic score and it was beautifully sung (only the black characters sing), played and staged at City Center. As soon as he returns from Costa Rica, Griffin heads to Canada for his third season with the Stratford Festival, where he'll stage a lavish production of &quot;Camelot&quot; (April 16-Oct. 30). <br /><br />The inimitable Andre De Shields currently is appearing in a true rarity, the 1621 Jacobean tragedy &quot;The Witch of Edmonton&quot; at Red Bull Theatre (through Feb. 20), an Off-Broadway venue that specializes in Jacobean repertory. Something of a legend among Chicago old-timers, De Shields began his career here 40 years ago in the national tour of &quot;Hair&quot; before joining the Organic Theater and appearing as super-villain Xander the Unconquerable in &quot;Warp!&quot; the world's first science fiction epic in serial form. This was in the very early 1970's, a decade ahead of &quot;Star Wars.&quot; In New York, his home for several decades, De Shields has starred on Broadway in &quot;The Wiz,&quot; &quot;Ain't Misbehavin,&quot; &quot;The Full Monty,&quot; &quot;Play On!&quot; and &quot;Harlem Nocturne&quot; among other shows. At regional venues, De Shields has appeared in &quot;Death of a Salesman,&quot; &quot;Tartuffe,&quot; &quot;The Bacchae&quot; and &quot;Waiting for Godot&quot; (here at the Goodman Theatre) among many other roles. Lucky for us, he finds his way back to Chicago every few years and has a particular association with Victory Gardens Theater. Indeed, he'll be back at VG May 14-June 12 to star in &quot;The Gospel According to James,&quot; a new play by VG Ensemble Playwright Charles Smith. De Shields and the play will be seen first at Indiana Repertory in Indianapolis (March 22-April 10).<br /><br />Finally, Charles Busch! What can one say about the little drag star Northwestern didn't want? Busch's obsession with period Hollywood movies and divas began while he was a Northwestern University theater student 30 years ago, and NU really didn't know what to make of him. I met Charles (I think people called him &quot;Chuck&quot; back then) when he was just out of NU and beginning to write and perform in Chicago clubs. Soon after, Charles moved to New York and became an Off-Broadway star. Over the years, Busch has developed a loyal following for his clever shows, which are half parodies of Hollywood film genres and half tributes to those genres and their stars. In addition to writing, Busch always played the female lead in &quot;The Lady in Question,&quot; &quot;Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,&quot; &quot;Psycho Beach Party&quot; and &quot;Die Mommie Die!&quot; (the last two also turned into films). I caught up with Charles after seeing his latest creation, a compilation of all the great nun movies ever, &quot;The Divine Sister,&quot; currently at the Soho Playhouse (through Memorial Day) in which he channels Rosalind Russell and Ingrid Bergman in the same habit. His infectious grin, rubbery face and impeccable comic timing are as sure as ever. Charles also is functioning as writer only on a new play to be produced in July at Primary Stages in NYC, &quot;Olive and the Bitter Herbs.&quot; His previous effort as writer only, &quot;The Tale of the Allergist's Wife,&quot; ran for 777 performances on Broadway.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 16 Feb 2011 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-02-16/checking-chicago-theater-stars-holding-their-own-nyc-82390