Sky Ride – 1933 Chicago’s World Fair

Post by Nick Chu

I accidentally stumbled upon this ad while reading the Economist on my subway ride home. Image by Zurich.

A week ago Julia provided us with a very sound analysis of using CPT technology in Chicago. Little did we know (or maybe we did), but suspended cable car technology already has a fairly colourful history in the Windy City.

The Sky Ride travelled at 6 mph or 9 kph across a lagoon. Image by Voice of America.

The Sky Ride was built in 1933 for the Chicago’s World Fair and was heralded as the fair’s architectural symbol and show piece. During its one year operational period, it’s estimated that the 32 “rocket riders” (i.e. cabins) helped transport 4.5 million passengers!

While some debate whether this ride should be considered a transporter bridge or an aerial tram – given it’s past success, perhaps a discussion of this system could be used as a launchpad to further develop the Chicago Cable Car proposal.


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  1. First the ferris wheel, then this?! amazing. upon further investigation, i found this panorama of the whole exhibition, you can see the skyride on the left http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Century_of_Progress_Panorama.jpg
  2. So double decker cabins existed back in the 30s!
  3. Matt the Engineer
    Funny how in all of the websites about this world's fair I'm having trouble finding any mention of this - even when it's in their pictures. I guess people just take transportation for granted. Oh, and a while back we talked about connecting malls to parking lots with gondolas. How's this for a parking lot?
  4. Im the great grand son of the inventor of the sky ride from the 1933 worlds fair