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Phoenix Ferris Wheel Coming Home

A ferris wheel, built in the late 19th century by the Phoenix Steel Company, is coming back to Phoenixville. The wheel, which was a part of the Asbury Park boardwalk until the late 1980s, has been in disrepair since the late 90s but was recently purchased by Barbara Cohen and the Schuylkill River Heritage Center. The wheel was bought for $50,000, with half of that paid up front and the rest to be paid for over the next 18 months. According to an article in last week's Inquirer, it will cost another $100,000 to fully restore it. Even after the restoration, it will not be usable as an amusement ride, but rather will be a monument to the former steel mill. No word on where the funding will come from.

The Phoenix
The Inquirer

Thanks to blusapphire_10 for the tip.


Anonymous said…
A broken ferris wheel in Phoenixville? A monument? We can't ride it? How fun. Well, at least it's not another bar ... sigh.
Anonymous said…
Oh boy! I just can't wait to see a gigantic, 65-ft, bright Cassidy blue, non-functional ferris wheel in Phoenixville (sarcasm).

NOT!! I love history but this is a colossal waste of $150,000.
Anonymous said…
if Mrs. Cohen thinks this ferris wheel is such a great idea then why doesn't she put it up in her back yard in Schuylkill township instead of putting up an eyesore next to the still-vacant foundry?

As a rule of thumb, if this lady points in one direction you should run the other way.
Anonymous said…
Boy, I love all the sarcasm and pessimism. Here's a point: if you don't like what's going on then stay out of the downtown. There's an idea. And if she wants to "waste" $150,000 on that wheel then that's her choice. Last time I checked I didn't see any of your names on the list that saved (yes saved) the foundry building. How about you "anon 8:27am"? Was your name on that list? No. I didn't think so. And last time I checked none of your names was on the list of people that donated the money to save the wheel. So until you do something as worth while as Barbara has (whether you like her or not) then your opinions are just more gutless darts that you throw at some of the things being done for the downtown.
Anonymous said…
Blah blah blah. I'm tired of the same old 'if you don't like it, stay away from downtown' song and dance. Get over yourself, you elitist. You and other supporters of this ferris wheel project are not any better than those who would rather see the money spent on something else that may be more worthwhile. I can only hope this silly ferris wheel will be the backdrop of the baseball stadium that is being proposed.
Unknown said…
Wow, I can't believe the animosity. Just because people may not be as community minded as others certainly does not make them less of the community. I don't see it as a waste of money to save something historic like the ferris wheel. If you think about it as a piece of art you may find it easier cope with the fact that it is non functional. However, at the same time, I'd be worried about placement of it affecting the landscape of the town since it is so large.
Anonymous said…
If they are going to spend that kind of money, they should go the whole way and make it functional.

Considering the money being spent, this isn't the time to go "cheap" and not spend for the engineering that would actually make it work.
Anonymous said…
Hey, there's a great point that you would rather see the money spent on something more worth while. Well, how about this: its their money that they raised and donated so they should spend it just the way they want. Just because you don't see it as being worth while is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. Maybe you should try and raise some money for something worth while............Yeah, I didn't think so.

And its not about people being more active in the community but rather that some of these people just complain allllllllll the time about everything that is done downtown. Examples - color of the light posts, color of the benches, streets being closed for First Friday, parking lot being used for the Music Series, the ferris wheel, Barry Cassidy, the CDC, Skip Lawrence, the newspaper, Molly MacGuires, the Fenix, parking, the parking authority, etc, etc, etc.

All of these complaints and yet no one does anything about it. Thats what I'm tired of is the constant complaining and whining about everything. Can't people just say "hey, I don't like the idea of a ferris wheel because of A,B, and C but I do see how Ms Cohen has raised the money herself and if thats what they want to do with the money THEY raised then so be it". Maybe its not what you or I would have used the money for but then again, YOU OR I didn't raise the money.
Anonymous said…
Quit whining, Anon 10:46AM. What have you done for this community? You say 'we' don't do anything. What have you done that's so great? Who are you, hiding behind the anonymous button? That's a fair question, right?
Anonymous said…
11:11am - I'm the same anonymous person that you are hiding behind the computer (that was dumb). A simple answer for a simple person. As far as what I have done for the community (I don't need to list it but lets just say that I'm active). You can't understand how its tiring listening to some of these whiners that just complain about every little thing that goes on in the community. Maybe you're a Monday Morning Quarterback but I prefer to take a more positive and active approach rather than just passively sitting back and bashing everybody that tries to get some things done in the community. So what, that its not the way you would do it, but then again I don't see any of you putting your butts on the line to do something.
Anonymous said…
I am so suprised at most of the negativity on this website.

Is it not clear to you all that movement like this will certainly continue with Phoenixville's chart topping reputation?!!

I love it and 150.000 dollars is well worth the price for the stories and history that will be dug up around the wheel.

Roll on.
Anonymous said…
WOW!!! Let's just forget the Phoenixville School District! They surely could use the money alot more then a Wheel that no one can ride! Or North Side, that side could use a face lift. Hey what about all the drug dealers? Or any of the trash that still is in Down Town Phoenixville? I still see drug deals down town! So to the precious Down Town(WHAT A JOKE) you can still find a hooker or a dealer!
Anonymous said…
Anon 12:12, so you pretty much don't do anything for the community other than police the blogs to make sure people are not complaining. What would we do without you? We don't need your holier than thou attitude. $150,000 for a monument of a ferris wheel. Like others said, what about the slums, the schools, the drugs? History is nice to preserve, but you have to have your priorities. Other things should come first like schools, churches, hospitals, crime, lack of illegals, etc. Socialist utopian ideas like museums and historic ferris wheels should come second. But that's just my opinion.
Anonymous said…
OMG! What don't you dopes get about, this is not borough money going to pay for the ferris wheel. This is private money for private enterprises. God! Is that so hard to grasp. Look if you want to help the schools, and get rid of slums, or the sidewalks - then by all means please donate your money and it will go directly to that venture. Again to the listening impaired - this is private funding for a private donation to the community. Buck up anytime you are ready for all of the other necessities you mentioned.............waiting................waiting.............. yeah - I thought so, nothing! Monday morning quarterbacks - please step up to the plate!

Again, ferris wheel is a private venture with private funding (it was never meant to work - it is an art installation) - What don't you get?
Anonymous said…
Regardless of the source of funding, these funds could have been used for something else. Opportunity cost, Mr. Waiting (in case you are economically illerate). Why spend money on a rusted wheel when it could be used for cleaning up crime, for example? I understand she could use this money for whatever she wanted, but it seems frivilous when compared to the other things going down in our town. Our town. We have to see this ferris wheel (it's 65 feet tall). It may be seen as a monument for what the town could have been ... a cleaner, safer town. But hey, it's her money. Do whatever you please!
Anonymous said…
Anon 1:56 pm - you've got to be joking right? Last time and I'm also signing this while I say it: It's a private fund that they can donate to whatever they want. Obviously the folks that feel like art is important feel strongly enough to donate their hard earned money and time for this cause. Maybe they feel that they have donated enough to the schools. Maybe they already do donate to the schools. I just can't believe you don't get this. When you feel the need please open up the moth infested wallet and donate your money to WHATEVER cause you feel is worthy.

And by the way, our tax increase this year will be higher already due to the schools raising taxes. If you feel you don't pay enough in tax money to schools you are more then welcome to donate any portion of your paycheck to the school system. Step up joker because I'm still "WAITING............"!
Anonymous said…
The ferris wheel is a private donation and acquired through private funding. If you don't like it then just don't look at it. Or make fun of it. Or whatever you want. But to say that there are other more important issues such as schools and streets shows your lack of understanding about art and its impact on any community. Many big cities spend millions of dollars on art in the community and the impact is noticeable and direct. Art is not a frivolous expense like you may view it. It just shows your lack of understanding but for you to comment against it is just plain ignorant. Sorry to jump in on the name calling but I mean that sincerely. That was an ignorant comment.
Anonymous said…
check Philadelphia magazine "top 50 school districts in the area".. you will find that Phoenixville is doing quite well.
Anonymous said…
I understand that it's private money but the issue I have is that it's 65 feet tall and we'll all be forced to look at this thing whether we want to or not. If they wanted to spend $150k of their own money on something that didn't affect anyone else I wouldn't have a problem with it, but since it's going to be dominating the skyline I think the public should have a say in this.

By the way, how did Ms. Cohen "save" the steel mill? Last I checked it was a vacant building.
Unknown said…
I can't tell who is arguing with whom. Seriously though, just sign up, give a name, any name, its not like anyone will track you down and shove your blog post in your face, but it would certainly make it easier to follow people's opinions. I honestly don't know how many different people actually have commented on this thread. I'm guessing 6.
Anonymous said…
Phoenixville is getting press from this which is a good thing. It can bring more people to go to restaurants and stores to spend more money. You can't have comparison costs on it. Its a concept. It was made from Phoenix Steel and part of history, its pride for the town. I understand what she is trying to do and like it. Good for her for going forward and its got people talking.
Anonymous said…
its one thing to have people talking but its another thing to have the negative nancy's out and about. You girls are a drag.
Anonymous said…
I would be all for preserving this piece of history if it was 25, 30, or even 35 ft. tall, but it is 65 ft. tall! I think some of you might want to think about how huge that is and what it will make downtown Phoenixville look like. And don't forget they are planning to paint it Cassidy blue. Is Phoenixville a small town with a nice, quaint downtown area or is it an amusement park?
Ed Naratil said…
The following ranting was excerpted from e-mail to Borough Council:

To my East Ward Representatives, Mr. Mayor, and other Council Members:

While reading the "Phoenix" this morning (8/29/08) there was one part of the article that really stuck me. A quote from the paper:

"The SRHC plans to work with the CDC, Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau, the Phoenixville Borough Council and neighboring townships that are part of the Regional Planning Group to raise the necessary funds to restore the wheel.

The wheel will then be given to the borough for placement and installation on the former Phoenix Steel property, where it was created more than a century ago." (Bold characters mine).

"...given to the borough....." Free of charge?

I don't think so. Who's going to pay for the installation? Is the borough going to obtain, by one means or another, a plot of ground from whoever owns the property now? How is the borough going to pay upkeep and maintenance? How about insurance? I'm sure this will be an attractive nuisance for those who like to climb or spray paint.

Lot's of questions, but only one answer. If the borough accepts this wheel, the taxpayers (you and me) will end up paying for it.

Sure, SRHC has the money to buy it and, thanks to other donations, the money to move it and maybe eventually have the money to put it together. But if the borough takes and installs it then we the citizens and taxpayers of Phoenixville will pay and pay as long as it exists.

I agree that the Wheel is a part of local history. The same as a number of bridges that were build by the Phoenix Bridge Co. As far as I know no one is trying to buy what is left of the Kinzua bridge that the Company built in 1882. Wouldn't it look nice spanning from the end of Starr Street to over the bluffs?

Yep, the Wheel is history and should remain so. So is the bridge.

Neither one is a Griffen Gun which rightly deserves its place in a Borough Park.

Yes, John Griffen was not a born and raised Phoenixvillian, but he did operate the Phoenix Iron Works and even served as a town burgess and a member of the school board in addition to designing the Ordinance Rifle.

I personally would prefer to see a portion of it melted down and the rest sold for scrap. Ten thousand 12" to 15" replica's of the wheel be made from what was melted down. These, along with a drawing of the original wheel and a write up of it and the Steel Mill could be sold for $20.00 apiece.

Anyone want to own a REAL piece of Phoenix Steel?
Anonymous said…
You can tell the people who know their stuff from the people who don't. Some comment about the Foundry being vacant. Yes, right now it is. But in a few months, it won't be. The Hankin Group is fixing up the inside to meet what they want. Then it will be open.
Anonymous said…
So I guess the hookers and drug dealers will have a new hang out! Especially after dark..........
THE WHEEL!! Also, all the kids will say," yes we live in the town with the Wheel that never lets us ride"! LOL It's got to be Phoenixville! Two Thumbs Up! LOL
Anonymous said…
Hey 8:37 am - you're an idiot. How about adding something beside just more negative comments (JO - know what that means? You should).
Anonymous said…
Ed - your little editorial is just another line of long scare tactics used to drum up support for your weak arguments. Its people like you that would have had the foundry building destroyed and lose a part of history.

To the person who asked about Barb Cohen saving the steel mill - Ms Cohen, although a polarizing figure, has made some great contributions to the town. She was one of the original group of people that came together to acquire funding to save the "set for demolition" steel mill foundry building. Yes thats right, people like Ed in the previous comments could have cared less about pieces of architectural history. But some people banded together to drum up funding to purchase the steel mill (that was the easy part). After that they need multiple millions in grants and donations to restore the foundry. The foundry (whether people like Ed would admit it or not - is one of the most significant buildings in the state of Pa). The building was designed by an architectural firm that included Frank Loyd Wright. Although Mr Wright did not work on the steel mill himself, the firm at that time was one of the most forward thinking firms of its time (Mr Wright was just one of the many talented architects in that firm). If you still don't understand its significance all you have to do is look at the foundry building and look at other steel mills of its time and you'll notice lots of differences. One being the stone construction as apposed to steel (made to last and be more efficient as a working building). Another is the top of the steel mill which was surrounded by all windows that opened and were designed to let light in to increase working moral and to vent the hot gases produced from the molten steel production. Also most steel mills are set up in a line formation to promote production. Thats good but these architects thought it could be better so they designed the Phoenix Steel Company to be a square (again with worker moral in mind) so the workers could be in constant contact with each other, work together, interact more, and increase safety. I could go on and on but lets put it this way - Ms Cohen was one of the people that helped save a significant building in our history. People (like Ed) thought she was crazy. Now she wants to help save a ferris wheel and people still think shes crazy. At some point doesn't she deserve some level of trust and support. Instead of doubt and ridicule from people like Ed. Keep it coming Ed, I love your forward thinking and desire to retain important elements of our past as a town.
Ed Naratil said…
anonymous 9:58 - At least I'm NOT afraid to sign my name.

As far as the foundry is concerned - Yep, they did a great job in restoring it. At the cost of around five million (that's a 5 with 6 zeros) dollars.

But that wasn't OUR money, you say. Grants and donations did it. OUR money someplace along the line either part of our income taxes or sales taxes played a big role in that 5 million.

And there it sits. The Heritage Center which is open once in a while and the rest empty.

I'm not against saving historical items or buildings when practical, but there are limits.

My home town was home to the largest Zinc refining plant in the world (New Jersey Zinc Co). Progress led to its demise and the only thing saved was the main corporate building downtown.

The rest of the land is now being decontaminated and restored by Horse Head Industries and the EPA.

As far as F. L. Wright goes - he designed many buildings many of which still exist, Falling Water for example, and many buildings in Buffalo, NY. Two of those that have historical significance are pretty much self supporting by charging admission (although they still get some grant money). At Falling Water for $16.00 you can tour the home. And the Martin House in Buffalo can be toured for $15 to $40 depending on how much of a tour you want.

How much would you be willing to pay to tour the Foundry? Will it ever be self-supporting with minimum grant money? Or will it remain a white elephant forever in Phoenixville?
Anonymous said…
I know I wouldn't pay for a tour of the Foundry.

But isn't it turning into a wedding hall, conference building sometime in the near future? At least that's what their website says. It's a nice looking website by the way.
Anonymous said…
Oh Ed you're love of architecture seems to permeating the room. Why, if you know so much about architecture would you be against saving anything of significance. Maybe in your small little mind it is not significant but that's why the foundry isn't for everyone (if you don't want to go see it or tour it then please don't). Please Eddie, tell us how much of our tax dollars went to save the foundry. Please Ed. Please. Oh my Eddie, please tell us a number so we can file it away in our "this was not worth it" expense file. I'm glad people like yourself (name and all) are not in charge of our town (although we have at least two knuckleheads in council who are).

Ed please don't speak unless you have something significant to add. You are obviously very ignorant about arts and architecture. They have words for folks like yourself, most of which I cannot even type on a blog (Idiot is one of the safer ones).

Hey Ed, the Hankin Group felt it was important enough to purchase and invest in its future. Surely whatever little job you have can't muster up enough guts to save anything of significance let alone open a respectable business. I think most people would trust the Hankin Groups business investment knowledge over yours. You can't even make a proper argument on a blog to an anonymous blogger so I can't imagine you'd do to well in the big business world. Thats why there's a big league in baseball and the little league. You are in the tee-ball category.

Please Eddie, I'm still waiting for that number. Go do some research and report back to me. Class out!
Anonymous said…
Mr Naratil , although I don't like the ferris wheel idea you are making a butt of yourself.
Anonymous said…
Oh and Eddie by the way, the Heritage Center (just in case you want to visit) was temporarily closed while the Hankin Group finished construction on its new venue space. So your argument of the Heritage Center being sometimes open is completely not true and more false information from an uninformed person. When the Foundry opens with a lot of recognition and appraise in the near future you can report back to us with your visionary opinions. Tee-ball Eddie, tee-ball.
Anonymous said…
Can't everyone just please get along.
Anonymous said…
Ed: Don't feed the troll (s).
Anonymous said…
Mr Naratil, If you look a little closer the ferris wheel was picked up by the Phila. Inq. which means it is more than just local news and local interest. So even without being refinished or installed it has started doing its job of bringing more attention and interest to the Phoenixville area. It is unfortunate that most art instillations impact cannot be directly measured but it doesn't diminish their importance. I don't agree with your views but I can respect your opposed opinion. Art and architecture has been politically opposed since it has been around because of the "dollars" argument.
Anonymous said…
tee ball, that's pretty funny!
Anonymous said…
I would be fine with it if it wasn't 65 feet tall. This is affects everyone because we all have to look at it even if it's privately purchased and on private land, kind of the equivalent of Bud's Bar in Audubon having the right to paint themselves green with polka dots - just because it's privately done doesn't mean the rest of us shouldn't have a say given that it's going to impact all of downtown.
Anonymous said…
And what ever happened to this $5,000,000?

From the "Phoenix" 4/11/2006:

PHOENIXVILLE - While standing at the entrance to the newly-refurbished Phoenix Column Bridge which crosses the French Creek, two U.S. lawmakers gave the borough a gift worth several million dollars.

"This is a great morning for Phoenixville," said Borough Council President John Messina (D-North).

Messina introduced U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-6-PA,) who signed and presented a $5 million check to the borough for the French Creek Parkway which will connect the intersection of Starr and Bridge streets to North Main Street, near the Foundry.

"Whenever we have the opportunity, we find dollars to come back home," Gerlach said.

The congressman, who has long championed Phoenixville and its projects, secured $4 million of the $5 million for the borough from the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

Santorum added,"This is a $5 million check, but four out of the five (million dollars) Jim is completely responsible for."
Anonymous said…
Art, unfortunately is not appreciated by everyone. Buds Bar in Audubon is a great mention by the person who mentioned it in their comment. That goes to show you the level of sophistication by that person - sorry but you cannot be helped. If poor taste was a medical condition you would be in the final stages. Like a very bad STD.

The $5 million dollars was money only to be used for the foundry and was used for the foundry. So don't even start those stupid arguments of "we need money to pay our bills" or "what about the schools", or "my sidewalk has a crack". These are your typical idiotic arguments that make no sense since THE MONEY WAS SPECIFICALLY FOR THE FOUNDRY BUILDING! Sorry for the breaking news but let those who put up the money decide where their money goes.
Anonymous said…
If you're talking about annonymous 12:55 -

It would appear since it came from Harrisburg - It was yours and mine. Taxpayer monies it would seem to me.
Anonymous said…
1:15 pm - you are also in the tee ball league. Lets start politics 101. Monies are allocated for several different uses all across the state. Some are even federal, some are state, some are local. These monies include such projects as art, sidewalk repair, road repair, bridge repair, light posts, trees, and even our cherished schools. Unfortunately (for you folks) these monies do not coexist with one another. In other words monies established for art cannot be used for trees. Monies for roads cannot be used for schools. Etc, etc, etc. So this money can never be moved to accommodate another. Those are the rules. I didn't make them but we all must abide by them. Now to help out with your brain lapse one last time: The money for the foundry could have never been used for ANYTHING else! This is money allocated for just such a project. If we didn't get that money some other forward moving town would have received it and we would have been left with "Ed's Scrap Metal Yard" (actually Ed there's a great business venture for you). So, now do we all understand children? Bye! Have a nice time chatting amongst yourselves. Unfortunately I cannot blog with you friendly folks forever so I'll leave the rest of the monday morning quarterbacking up to you coconuts. Elvis has left!
Anonymous said…
Anyone can receive a gift, doesn't mean you have to accept it. It will look out of place downtown and the topic of "art" is very debatable as well.

The one person we forget about is the guy who got the money for the ferris wheel. He is laughing all the way to the bank right now that some sucker bought this thing.
Anonymous said…
Leave it up to Phoenixville! It never surprises me! A Ferris Wheel that will never have riders. That's just creepy! It reminds me of a bad horror movie! Hey it will go nice with the Vale-Rio Diner that sits behind a rental office! Maybe the Blob part 2 LOL
Barb Vanderslice
Anonymous said…
I heard that Phoenixville is now trying to buy a roller coaster which doesn't work. That will be a great addition to the downtown. haha
JW said…
That'll about do it for this one.

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