A Brief History of the London Eye

London Eye

The London Eye may feel like a London mainstay, but it’s a relatively new addition to the city’s skyline compared to most of the buildings which surround it. The London Eye has become a world-famous observation wheel since it’s installation, as well as a hugely popular tourist attraction.

Whether you’re staying at the Piccadilly London West End for a short break or a longer visit, why not make the most of your time at one of the top hotels near the West End by taking a trip on the London Eye for yourself? Our guide will tell you everything you need to know about one of London’s most famous new landmarks.

History of the London Eye

An Attraction for the New Millennium

The London Eye first opened in 2000 and was designed as an attraction to help usher in the new millennium. The iconic Ferris wheel was a celebration of the new year and was intended to provide a modern addition to the historic areas of London in which it stands. With 32 capsules surrounding the central wheel and a 25-person capacity in each, the London Eye can carry around 15,000 visitors daily. Standing at 135 meters tall and reaching far above some of the city’s older landmarks, the where provides tourists with amazing views of such iconic structures such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

It takes around 30 minutes for the London Eye to complete a single trip and is designed for continual motion. Construction was completed in 2000 after the wheel’s components were sailed up the Thames and assembled flat before raising. The London Eye weighs around 1700 tonnes in total. The attraction has won many awards for tourism and architecture and continues to be incredibly popular to this day. There’s no denying that a trip to the London Eye is a must for anyone planning a holiday at the Piccadilly London West End.

Ownership of the London Eye

The London Eye has changed hands over the years. Originally it was owned by a conglomeration of the Tussauds Group, British Airways and members of the Marks Barfield family but in 2006, Tussauds Group gained sole ownership. The following year, the company was purchased by Merlin Entertainment, who still maintain complete ownership of the London Eye. While ownership has changed hands several times over the span of its existence, the London Eye has always remained an iconic part of the city’s skyline and is still one of the most popular attractions.

Unveiling and Present Day Usage

The London Eye was unveiled as part of the New Years Eve celebrations in 1999 but did not actually open to the public until March 2000 following some technical glitches in its early life. Since 2005, the London Eye has played a significant role in London’s New Year celebrations. Today, the London Eye attracts huge numbers of tourists and is estimated to have accommodated over 30 million visitors since it was first opened, making it an enduringly significant symbol in modern London’s skyline.