Just say 'NO' to a giant Ferris wheel - Curt Yeomans

Look, I love the London Eye, but the concept of a giant sightseeing Ferris wheel would not work when all you have to look at from the top is a bunch of Plain Jane concrete and glass buildings, and a congested interstate.

And, that's if you can see through the smog.

There were media reports this week that a push to build a sightseeing Ferris wheel in Atlanta -- similar to the London Eye -- is beginning to formulate.

Why people in Atlanta want to ruin the joy of travel is beyond me.

There are a couple of the things that make the London Eye a great attraction. First, such sightseeing Ferris wheels are few and far between in the world. There are Ferris wheels in London, Belfast (Ireland), Chicago, Vienna (Austria), and Singapore. There is another one on the way, in Beijing, China.

What's the joy of going to those places to ride on a sightseeing Ferris wheel if there is one right here in Atlanta.

The second thing that makes the London Eye great is the fact that there are a lot of attractions worth looking for from the ride. You can look down on Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Globe Theater, and on a clear day, you can see Windsor Castle, which is miles away.

What, pray tell, would be worth looking at from an Atlanta Eye? The aquarium, World of Coke, Centennial Olympic Park, Phillips Arena and the Georgia Dome, are all in one spot. The rest of the time (presumably it would take 30 minutes to ride the thing, like in London) would be spent looking at mundane skyscrapers, parking lots, residential neighborhoods, and the interstate.

And, let's not forget that Atlanta is notorious for its summertime smog, which would not only choke the riders' lungs but their views of the area as well.

When will Atlanta get it. Just because something is a big tourist attraction somewhere else does not mean it would be a good fit for the ATL.

Sorry, but the city needs to go back to the drawing board, and come up with something unique -- something that will define the city, and re-define its skyline.

I remember, once upon a time, the blue dome on top of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta was THE defining feature of the city's skyline because it was so distinctive. It looks like a space-ship landed on the roof of the hotel. Now, it has been swallowed up behind all of the other, taller skyscrapers which have sprung up around it. You cannot even see it from the downtown connector anymore.

Atlanta needs the next blue dome. Heck, maybe even a sightseeing tower (a la Toronto's CN Tower, since a sightseeing device is what the people in the city want), with a blue dome on top of it. That would redefine the city's skyline, satisfy the "Let's build a giant sightseeing device" crowd, and still pay homage to the city's skyline of yesteryear.

That is the kind of thing Atlanta should focus on. Not some giant Ferris wheel that makes us look like we're ripping the rest of the world off.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.