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The battle of the Ferris wheels

Big wheels keep on rollin'
Big wheels keep on rollin' 02:00

CHICAGO -- The view atop Chicago's Centennial Wheel is hard to beat. With Lake Michigan's blue canvas as the backdrop, nearly a million people take a spin each year.

Brian Murphy is chief operating officer for Navy Pier, which runs the wheel. "It's just part of the Chicago skyline. If you don't see the wheel, something is wrong."

It stands 196 feet high, but this isn't the city's first.

The first Ferris wheel was built in Chicago in 1893. CBS News

The first Ferris wheel was at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. George Ferris built the 264-foot wheel to rival the Eiffel Tower, and others have been trying to outdo him ever since.

The London Eye stands 443 feet. The high roller in Las Vegas is 100 feet higher than that.

"Seems to be a war. It's a wheel war out there," Murphy joked.

If so, the next battlefield is New York City's Staten Island -- where the world's largest wheel is currently being built. The wheel, at 630 feet tall, will be double the size of the Statue of Liberty and open next year.

Staten Island's Ferris wheel will have a view of New York City's skyline when it is finished. CBS News

"To us, it's not about being the biggest. It's about having a grandness of scale and more importantly, a grandness of place," said Rich Marin, the CEO of the project.

But with Dubai planning an even taller wheel, New York won't hold the title of world's largest for long. Which leaves Chicago with something none of them can duplicate.

"The fact is, there is only one number one -- and we're the first. No one will ever take that away from us."

Because sometimes history does come full circle.

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