Boston Freedom Wheel, LLC. is proposing a 200 foot “observation wheel” at the end of Long Wharf on the Boston Harbor watersheet. Company officials have held several private meetings with community leaders to explain the plans that would include two, 2-story cafe buildings and outdoor seating for 700 people. Using a platform supported by pilings in the harbor, the complex would cover 34,000 square feet, operating 365 days per year. A liquor license is also being sought to support the facility for functions, such as weddings and catered parties.

The proponents have experience in the business with a similar operation in Montreal, Canada, known as La Grande Roue de Montreal (photo at top). Officials said that similar, luxury, UV-glass gondolas would be used and climate controlled for all-season weather.

Boston Freedom Wheel LLC is determined to locate on the North End waterfront because of the foot traffic that comes with the area’s other attractions, such as the Freedom Trail, New England Aquarium, Faneuil Hall and the North End / Downtown restaurants. When asked about other neighborhoods, such as the Seaport or the Everett casino, management said the North End offers the large number of visitors needed for the venture to be successful. The company would look to partner with local attractions and contribute to climate resiliency efforts at Long Wharf which often floods at high tide.

Watersheet site proposed for observation wheel off Long Wharf (NEWF Photo)

The ferris wheel sponsors are aware of the decade-long lawsuit at Long Wharf between the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA, now known as the BPDA) versus the National Park Service (NPS) and the North End Ten, a group of local residents aiming to protect the end of Long Wharf as public parkland. The disagreements at Long Wharf began years ago in response to the BRA’s efforts to activate the area by licensing Doc’s Long Wharf, proposed to be a 220-seat, 4,655 square-foot eatery/bar with outdoor tables. While the BPDA continues to appeal, the latest court rulings have favored NPS and local resident efforts to maintain Long Wharf as a park for passive use. As a result, Boston Freedom Wheel LLC is looking to build beyond the disputed area into the water by building pilings off the edge of Long Wharf.

The Boston Freedom Wheel is the latest in a series of efforts to bring a ferris wheel to Boston. A similar, but separate, proposal was made in Charlestown Navy Yard and previously the Boston Winter exhibition was intended to include an observation wheel on City Hall Plaza. Boston Freedom Wheel LLC was originally was looking at the inlet in front of Christopher Columbus Park, but ran into opposition at that location so moved their proposal to Long Wharf.

Proponents have not released images of the Boston project to the public. Shown at the top of this post is the La Grande Roue de Montreal operated by the same owners as Boston Freedom Wheel LLC.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Ugh. Please no!! The Charlestown Navy Yard is a much better site. The North End can’t handle the increased foot traffic. What a crappy water view for us. Its like Disneyland.

    • No Charlestown site is right in a crowed residential area. In fact NO Site in Boston is the best site for this gimmick to make investers rich while residents see their property values destroyed!

  2. This makes so much more sense than the inaccessible Navy Yard. I applaud their willingness to think outside the box on this one.

  3. This proposal should be called “The Revenge of the BRA.” Having been stymied in their efforts to install a late-night gin joint on public parkland, they are undoubtedly happy to see the enjoyment of that parkland usurped by paying customers. Long Wharf Park offers panoramic views of the harbor to anyone who walks down there. If this complex is built, you could go to the same location and not see the harbor at all. Of course, you could pay to ride the “Freedom Wheel” and see the view that way. This fits in with the BRA’s concept of “activation” which involves finding ways to make the public pay for things which they now enjoy for free. One of the people spearheading this effort is Joe Rull, Marty Walsh’s former chief of staff and the head of the Boston Olympics organization. Needless to say, the proponents have already met with Brian Golden and Rich McGuinness of the BRA. Needless to say, no one discouraged them from trying to cram something like this into the limited open space which local residents have worked so hard to preserve. Outdoor seating for 700? Really? Is this supposed to make us grateful when they cut it down to 300? It is easy to understand why Charlestown residents opposed a project like this when it was proposed by a different group of developers. We should unite with them in opposing this kind of insanity along our inner harbor.

  4. Oh hell no! Put it in the Wharf District or the Seaport. We have enough congestion and tourist traffic in the North End. Maybe the Mayor would like it in his neighborhood.

  5. Will the Ferris wheel be equipped with a flotation device? Because of all the commonly trafficked areas around the inner harbor, that’s the one that floods first and worst. I am sure insurers would just love to bond this deal. And their reinsurers.

    So rename it the First And Worst Freedom Ferris Flotation Wheel.

  6. Hell no put it up at City Hall right outside the Mayors window. What is this North End coming to, the Golden Cow, enough is enough we are congested enough between smaller streets, bike paths, 260 foot story buildings are you serious

  7. What is with the BPDA? Why can’t they just respect those who live here……there are so many issues with even the idea of hosting something like that in our downtown neighborhoods that I’m in disbelief. We know the intentions of the private firm who wants to bring it here, but why does the BPDA consistently try to push the limits? They clearly know the residents will have no interest, so why do they persist? I can’t wait to hear from the city official with their reasons for why they think this will be a good idea. They’ll certainly get a circus atmosphere at that public meeting!

  8. It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t belong on Long Wharf. Why not instead put it on the currently vacant, nearby Sargents Wharf?

    • It does not belong anywhere in the inner harbor. What don’t you get that the people who live in the North End/Waterfront do not want that thing here. Not a cool idea . A dumb idea by clueless and greedy developers.

    • We can get the same view from the Custom House Tower, and then walk to Long Wharf to enjoy the spectacular harbor view for free.
      What is the proposed ticket price? This would probably be out of reach for many families. If I were a tourist, I would love this not realizing what the locals had lost.

  9. What happened to changing City Hall Plaza? There was a proposal for the Ferris wheel to be part of the rejuvenation/activation of the plaza. So what happened? The BRA/BPDA couldn’t care less about the residents of the north end or its abutters. Look at the plans for the parking garage on Clinton Street and Surface Road. That project is a joke. Have you seen the glass installation on top of the office building at the corner of Water and Congress streets? It looks RIDICULOUS and doesn’t fit with the aesthetics of Boston. As long as the unions are making money and those involved are benefitting from these projects, the BPDA will happily approve projects all over the city. The BPDA doesn’t care about residents and abutters! They just don’t. They are a bunch of yes men for the Mayor. The Landmark Commission is even worse. Those idiots give their stamp of approval for all projects without regard to the impact of their decisions. Everyone will pat the Mayor on the back for a job well done without giving consideration to who is getting greased for these dumb projects. All they do is chase the money and don’t care who it affects. Most recently look at what is also happening at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The place is a dump and in disrepair. Empty retail spaces everywhere surrounded by major retailers that can be found in any mall around the country. There is nothing unique about that property. The general manager is the mayor’s cousin. You would think that the place would have been improved by now but it hasn’t. Durgin Park and others have left because of the rapacious rents! I walked through recently and couldn’t believe how cold it was in there. I remember thinking to myself how is it that they charge high rents there and yet can’t keep their visitors or tenants warm? Then I remembered how ridiculously hot it is there in the summer. That property is a famous landmark in Boston run by a New York City firm and now is in terrible disrepair. Andrea Cabral former Suffolk County sheriff is opening up a pot shop at North Station…excuse me?? She’s connected to the city and the state. Now she’s opening up a marijuana facility. SMFH!! Bottom line NO ONE CARES about anything in our city and it’s pretty clear to me that it’s all about the money. They are all like rats chasing cheese in a maze when it comes to chasing money for these projects. It’s all about hack jobs and hack connections to the mayor. It’s a darn shame how even more politically corrupt our city has become under this administration. Don’t get me started on the rapacious rents charged for apartments by landlords all over the city!

  10. Please….. NO …. Not at the end of Long Wharf. I worry so about the shifting sands af the ocean floor and the rising waters from global warming.
    PLEASE …. NO Ferris wheel there. 🙏🏼

  11. We can get the same view from the Custom House Tower, and then walk to Long Wharf to enjoy the spectacular harbor view for free.
    What is the proposed ticket price? This would probably be out of reach for many families. If I were a tourist, I would love this not realizing what the locals had lost.

  12. Fantastic, gorgeous view….these guys know how to do it…the one in montreal is fantastic…….its not a typical ferris wheel…boston get with it, you are all so stale and sour…better here than what was ridiculously proposed for city hall plaza

    • Safe guess is you don’t live in the North End……many of us do. We love our neighborhood, the history, and the little open space and the few parks that remain special. You tell us we’re stale and sour? Because why? Id’ be curious to know how you’d feel with a private developer looking to turn what’s basically your front/back yard into an amusement park.

  13. can we make the North End a historic district already?
    the signs claim we are historic but technically we are not in the eyes of the city.
    it would help curb this absurdity.

  14. The North End has an aura of history. It was right for WE citizens to say “No” to an upscale coffer enterprise, The viewer, both local and transient, appreciates the traditional elements that gives Boston Harbor its rich waterfront components a lasting memory and meaning. Spinning Wheels, whatever their purpose, went out of fashion eons ago.

  15. This is not at all in keeping with our historic North End Waterfront neighborhood. This seems like a perfect project for the Seaport district or Everett. The kinds of folks gravitating there for the glitz might enjoy this tourist attraction. We prefer nature and history and don’t want to become an amusement park (any more than we already are…)

  16. The Freedom Wheel won’t be free. This is Mayor Marty’s plan to defeat global warming by creating a giant fan. It will go in reverse during the winter to push cool air into East Boston.

  17. The BPDA won’t rest until every spit of open space is filled in with glass and steel boxes, which bring in tax dollars from super weathly speculators. Or in the case of Long Wharf, they won’t rest until this dynamic jewell of public land, is made a cash cow, by building a mamoth hampster wheel ( swaying over the LNG tankers ) in order to charge the middleclass, an hours wage, for a few moments of a ‘view’ of open space.

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