ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Generations of motorists have passed by the world's largest tire, which sits alongside a busy stretch of Detroit-area freeway.
On Wednesday, however, dozens of visitors enjoyed a different vantage point from which to check out the Giant Uniroyal Tire.
The owners allowed guests inside during a special half-century celebratory event.
The 80-foot-high, 11- to 12-ton tire — a car would have to be 200 feet tall to handle it — has stood alongside Interstate 94 since 1965, a year after it debuted at the New York World's Fair. It originally was a Ferris wheel with 24 barrel-shaped gondolas — the brainchild of the architectural firm that designed the Empire State Building. It's been a mainstay in the Motor City ever since.
"The inside of the tire is interesting. You can see some remnants that it used to be a Ferris wheel," Uniroyal brand manager Ray Fischenich said while standing in the shadow of the immense tire. "But it's also had structural reinforcements, and concrete's been laid down to make sure that the tire doesn't go anywhere."
The 96-passenger Ferris wheel was a hit at the World's Fair, drawing an estimated 2 million visitors, including Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, as well as the shah of Iran.
When the fair ended in 1965, the tire was shipped to Michigan by rail in 188 sections. It was reassembled in four months and anchored in concrete and steel off I-94 at the Uniroyal sales office.
Located between Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the city, the tire 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," Fischenich said.
For more information: http://www.uniroyaltires.com/about/gianttire.html