Seattle's new Great Wheel. Photo via Ken Jones at KING 5

Seattle’s skyline is officially getting a new addition today as the Great Wheel — a 175-foot tall Ferris wheel sporting 42 climate-controlled gondola cars — opens for business along the waterfront. Now, you might be wondering why I’m covering a Ferris wheel of all things.

Well, first, it’s just a cool addition to the city I’ve called home for more than 15 years. But, more importantly, I like the fact that this creation basically came out of nowhere. Did anyone — minus some planning department officials and key insiders — really know about it before the huge white beams started going up?

Built in less than a year as the longtime dream of Pier 57 owner Hal Griffith, the more than $20 million Great Wheel is a physical manifestation of key startup tenets.

KING 5 photo via Ken Jones

Vision. Speed. Persistence.

Seattle — rightly so — often gets ridiculed for its lengthy process-oriented culture. It’s a mindset that drives the tech community — accustomed to moving with lightning speed — absolutely mad.

So, in some weird way, the Great Wheel is Seattle startup-style at its best.

Love it or hate it, you’ve got to applaud folks who make stuff happen. Or, in the words of Seattle angel investor Andy Sack those who follow the acronyms GSD: “Get Sh—t Done” and GFA:  “Get F—ing Aggressive.”

Our media partner, KING 5, got an early ride on the wheel, interviewing the German safety expert who is in charge of it. “It is very, very safe, and very, very smooth,” he says. The Great Wheel opens for business at 5 p.m. today, and tickets cost $13 for adults and $8.50 for children under 12.

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  • David Milesi

    John – Have you heard of the proposed “Gondola” running from the convention center down to the waterfront? Now that is GFA….

    • johnhcook

      No, I have not. That sounds awesome. But I like my friend’s idea who says we should install zip lines and log flumes from Queen Anne and Capitol Hill to downtown. Now, that would be real Seattle progress! :)

  • ama-hole

    apparently GSD and GFA don’t apply to the Mercer Street construction project.

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