London Eye (2000)
While the London Eye isn't the first observation wheel to hit the British capital city (that title belongs to Great Wheel, a close facsimile of Chicago's original Ferris Wheel that towered over Earls Court from 1895 to 1907), it is the tallest at a staggering 443 feet. The London Eye, with its constantly shifting corporate branding and impossible-to-miss riverfront position on the South Bank of the Thames, is also the tallest Ferris wheel – "cantilevered observation wheel" if you want to get technical – in all of Europe and, from 2000 until 2006, was the tallest in the world. Fifteen years on, it's still in the top five.
An insta-landmark in a city already chock-full of towering icons, the London Eye is also largely responsible for sparking the giant observation wheel trend, a trend in which has elevated the modern Ferris wheel from amusement park staple to urban status symbol. Capable of accommodating 25 passengers in each of its 32 air-conditioned motorized capsules per leisurely 30-minute revolution, the London Eye is the top paid tourist attraction in the U.K. And ever since the London Eye's first "blink," once-formidable tourist hotspots such as the London Bridge have been forced to up their game. A ride on the London Eye is no doubt a brilliant, as they natives might say, experience but be prepared to cough up some serious pound-age. These expansive – and expensive – city views set adults back £29.95 – about $46 – per head.