Few amused by plan for 36-meter-tall Ferris wheel in central Amsterdam

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Residents of the Oosterdok neighborhood in Amsterdam are afraid that plans to build a 36-meter-tall Ferris wheel there will turn the area into an amusement park. Neighbors believe the plan brings little value to the city’s heritage, and at the expense of those who live and work there.

The attraction was granted approval from the local water board in December, which determined that it will not detract from the quality of water there. The next challenge will be in convincing its neighbors that building the wheel is in their interest, and gaining approval from the municipality.

The wheel carries the name Amsterdam Eye which is a wink to its 135-meter-tall inspiration, the London Eye. The shorter Amsterdam attraction would have 24 six-person gondolas. The operator, a family from Egmond, wants to place the wheel near the entrance to the IJ-Tunnel on a quay behind the Arcam architecture center, and a short walk from the Nemo science museum.

The Vallentgoed family had a similar attraction in Egmond aan Zee for a few months last year. They said they want this wheel to connect tourists to the neighborhood’s cultural heritage, according to Het Parool.

“They want to tell the story of Oosterdok?” asked Walther Schoonenberg, a city center activist and architecture historian. He said the real story of the neighborhood is the damaged waterfront caused by developments, like the IJ-Tunnel to Amsterdam Noord.

“In that respect, such a Ferris wheel is a new example of this trend.” Despite the irony, he said that this proposal is nothing more than a fairground attraction with no place in the area.

“We don’t want a carnival on our doorstep,” a spokesperson for the Scheepvaartmuseum said. The museum is located just across a stretch of water from the Nemo. Others in the area expressed concern for the noisy crowds that the wheel will attract, with nobody present to keep the space clean and orderly.

“It is incomprehensible that this approval has been given,” said Tiers Bakker, a city council member for the socialist SP, in a statement. “The ‘amusement parkification of Amsterdam’ keeps rumbling on. It’s time to stop this.