It was a home, Ferris wheel, marriage proposal site, target for arrows, and ogled by Paul McCartney.
But mainly, it’s the biggest dang tire you’ve ever seen.
It’s the giant Uniroyal tire on Interstate 94 in Allen Park, and it’s turning 50 next month.
No formal celebration is planned, but the city is proud of the 80-foot behemoth, which is one of the largest and most famous roadside landmarks in Michigan.
The Uniroyal Giant Tire was created by the Uniroyal Tire Company for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where it functioned as a Ferris wheel. Since 1966 it has served as a static display at Allen Park, Michigan, alongside Interstate 94, near Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The Giant Tire was first created as a Ferris wheel for the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens, NY. Located on Grand Central Parkway next to the Transportation and Travel Pavillion (40.74500°N 73.84808°W) and now part of the Queens Zoo, it was originally emblazoned “U S ROYAL TIRES”. Designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the same architectural firm that designed the Empire State Building, the wheel carried over 2 million people, including prominent passengers such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Telly Savalas, and the Shah of Iran. It had 24 barrel-shaped gondolas, each carrying up to 4 people, and could carry up to 96 passengers. It was driven by a 100 hp engine.
When the fair ended in 1965, the tire was disassembled and shipped by rail to Detroit, where it was reassembled in 1966 as a static display without its passenger gondolas outside a Uniroyal sales office. Later, the sales office moved but the tire remained, becoming an icon of Detroit’s industrial power. Today it still stands tall as a symbol of Uniroyal’s heritage and a Detroit landmark.
But don’t forget it is Allen Park’s iconic trademark, not Detroit’s.
For the full article, see Francis X. Donnelly, “Big wheel on Interstate 94 keeps heads turning”, Detroit News, March 17, 2015.
Michael Martinez, “Uniroyal tire celebrates 50th with rare glimpse inside”, Detroit News, March 21, 2015.