World's biggest tyre rolls on 50
Published 21/05/2015 | 02:56
Generations of motorists have passed by the world's largest tyre, which sits alongside a busy stretch of Michigan freeway.
But dozens of visitors enjoyed a different vantage point from which to check out the Giant Uniroyal tyre when the owners allowed guests inside during a special 50-year anniversary event.
The 80ft high tyre, weighing 11 to 12 tons - a car would have to be 200ft tall to handle it - has stood alongside Interstate 94 at Allen Park, near Detroit, since 1965, a year after it debuted at the New York World's Fair.
It was originally a Ferris wheel with 24 barrel-shaped gondolas, the brainchild of the architectural firm that designed the Empire State Building, and has been a mainstay in Motor City ever since.
"The inside of the tyre is interesting. You can see some remnants that it used to be a Ferris wheel," Uniroyal brand manager Ray Fischenich said, standing in the shadow of the immense tyre. "But it's also had structural reinforcements, and concrete's been laid down to make sure that the tyre doesn't go anywhere."
The 96-passenger Ferris wheel was a hit at the World's Fair, drawing an estimated two million visitors, including Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, as well as the shah of Iran.
When the fair ended in 1965, the tyre was shipped to Michigan by rail in 188 sections, reassembled in four months and anchored in concrete and steel off the freeway at the Uniroyal sales office.
Located between Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the city, the tyre is one of the first things out-of-towners see after entering the highway.
"It's been welcoming visitors to the city of Detroit for 50 years," Mr Fischenich said.