The Seattle Space Needle is an icon on the Seattle skyline. It’s no wonder that tourists flock to its base, waiting in lines that rival Disneyland, no matter the cost because “we’re on vacation.” Maybe that’s why it took me a full year and a half of living in Seattle to make the trip to the top. When you live somewhere, it can be too easy to fall into the locals-aren’t-tourists group. But guys, it was SO worth it. Below are five reasons to make the trip.
- Architecture. The design of the Space Needle is fantastic and seeing it up close after always just squinting up at it was amazing. I love that all of the windows are angled outwards (see top photo). And the interior design is fascinating (how could it not be, it’s circular!). You can take an interior staircase down to the restaurant level, and they somehow squeezed in some oddly shaped bathrooms between the viewing and restaurant levels. Even though there’s no windows, you know you’re not in a normal bathroom. Who knew how much was going on up there? It looks so small from below!
- History: the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and the Space Age. Historic photos of the Space Needle are so great (did you see the stunning photos of the Space Needle construction that ran in the Seattle Times earlier this year?) and seeing the Space Needle up close and personal is even better. They can repaint the Space Needle but they can’t redesign it! (Did you know it was originally orange?! Or technically, “galaxy gold.”)
- Engineering. When it was constructed for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, many were concerned about the structural integrity of the Space Needle. They needn’t have worried. The concrete foundation goes 30 feet underground and is almost 6,000 tons. The Space Needle was built to withstand earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude.
- The experience. Glass elevators, a circular ramp, the ability to picnic under the Space Needle and look down at your picnic spot from the top. Need I say more?
- The views. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed looking at the Space Needle, itself, but let’s be honest, the views are amazing. We timed our trip to watch the sunset and imagined at some point we’d get bored (there’s a lengthy period of time between the golden hour and the moment when the city becomes completely dark with twinkling lights) but we never got tired of moving around the circular deck and noticing new things below.
Sources and reading recommendations:
- A interesting piece from NPR on the Space Needle’s 50th, when the Space Needle briefly returned to it’s galaxy gold paint job.
- The Space Needle website has accumulated a page of fun facts. A lot of this, along with some great historic photos, can be viewed along the walkway to the elevators on the lower level of the Space Needle.
- History Link has many great articles, including this one about the groundbreaking ceremony.
- I love the historic photos that the Seattle Times recently published, showing the workers constructing the Space Needle.
- Curious about what else was left behind the Seattle World’s Fair and what you can find in and around Seattle Center? Me too! I’ve been delving into different facets of the space since I started this blog. I wrote about a fascinating church constructed nearby in 1962 here. I picked the Seattle Pacific Science Center and the Space Needle for the 2016 Seattle heart bomb event, see more here. Seattle Center is a hot spot for landmarks, new and old. Click here to read more!
Have a great week!