Although not as storied as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, the London Eye has unabashedly become one of the city’s central landmarks. From appearances is Cars 2 to 28 Days Later, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the Millennium Wheel punctuates the city’s South Bank, and this year it celebrates its fifteenth anniversary.
Skirted by the river Thames, the Millennium Wheel, at 443 feet, began its life as the world’s tallest Ferris wheel—a title since usurped by the High Roller in Las Vegas. As the country’s most paid-for attraction, with more than 3.5 million visitors a year, its popularity is unparalleled.
“We are proud that the London Eye has become an integral part of our culture, as well as a much-loved symbol of London,” London Eye architects David Marks and Julia Barfield described in the release announcing the 15-year milestone.
If you added up the distance of every rotation it’s made, it totals 32,932 miles—equivalent to circling the globe 1.3 times. Supermodel Kate Moss holds the record as the U.K. celebrity who has circumnavigated the Eye’s path most regularly (25 rotations), while American actress Jessica Alba holds the overall winning record at 31.
Pritzker Prize-winning architect Sir Richard Rogers described the Eye (now the Coca-Cola London Eye) as doing, “for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris.” With more than 5,000 proposals made in the sky since its opening, he might have a point.
Bridget Arsenault is the associate editor, print and digital at Vanity Fair UK. and the co-director of the Bright Young Things Film Club. She covers the U.K. beat for Travel + Leisure; follow her on Twitter at @bridget_ruth.