Numerous drivers have passed along the world’s biggest tire, the Giant Uniroyal Tire, as the “monument” guards a busy zone of the I-94 and this week the onlookers had the chance to enjoy a different vantage point.
The owners, which organized a special celebratory event as the Giant Tire has stood up for half a century, allowed guests to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of the 80-foot-high, 11- to 12-ton tire. With proportions respected, a car that would have the Giant Tire fitted would need to be 200 feet tall – but luckily the monument has been left alone to sit next to Interstate 94 since 1965, a year after it was presented to the global audience during the New York World’s Fair. Initially it was conceived as a Ferris wheel with 24 barrel-shaped gondolas – also designed by the architectural firm that conceived the Empire State Building, but ultimately ended up as a landmark of Detroit – the Motor City. “The inside of the tire is interesting. You can see some remnants that it used to be a Ferris wheel,” commented Uniroyal brand manager Ray Fischenich. “But it’s also had structural reinforcements, and concrete’s been laid down to make sure that the tire doesn’t go anywhere.”
The 96-passenger Ferris wheel attracted around 2 million visitors during the World’s Fair, among them said to be Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, as well as the shah of Iran. It was then shipped to Michigan and reassembled next to the Uniroyal sales headquarters. “It’s been welcoming visitors to the city of Detroit for 50 years,” added the executive, as the location – between Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the city itself would make it one of the first landmarks people see before getting into the town.