Preliminary construction work has begun on Staten Island's New York Wheel: a huge Ferris wheel that will rise 192 m (630 ft) above New York Harbor. Slated for completion in 2017, the US$500 million New York Wheel will have a capacity of up to 1,440 passengers at a time.

New York Wheel is being built by Starneth BV, the Dutch firm responsible for the London Eye, and is part of a larger $1 billion redevelopment of St. George, Staten Island. Over $7 million will be spent in LED lighting and the Ferris wheel will feature 36 capsules, each with a capacity of up to 40 people. A full ride will take 38 minutes to complete.

The developers hope to attract over 4 million visitors per year, and they state that approximately 350 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs in ticket sales, maintenance and other positions will be created as a result of the project.

New York Wheel is aiming for LEED Platinum certification (a green building standard). Though we've no in-depth details on any sustainable design, the firm does make mention of possible renewable energy sources being used to power the Ferris wheel, including wind, wave, and solar power, with any excess juice sent back into the grid. In addition, New York Wheel's ancillary building features a massive 2.4 hectare (6 acre) green roof that will be host to concerts, food festivals, and corporate gatherings, amongst other events.

Though New York Wheel is promoted as the world's tallest Ferris wheel, the Daily Mail reports that work is also currently underway on the Dubai Eye, a Ferris wheel that will be 18 m (60 ft) taller. If the report proves accurate, Dubai's project will win "world's largest" Ferris wheel bragging rights. Still, New York Wheel's status as tallest Ferris wheel in the Western Hemisphere is assured.

View gallery - 7 images