North America | Seattle

Much Ado about the Space Needle

By on November 20, 2013

 

Seattle is considered the major commercial, educational, and cultural powerhouse of the western Washington region. It may seem like an ordinary city, but you would never want for anything when you visit the place. The city boasts of extraordinary and fun things to do no matter what age group you belong to.

At least three bodies of water surround Seattle – Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Elliot Bay. In addition, it’s where you’ll find Mount Olympic, Cascade, and Mount Rainier. Aside from these natural treasures, Seattle boasts of a thriving city life, world class museums such as the Seattle Art Museum, classic theaters, restaurants that serve world class cuisine, and many more famous landmarks.

seattle space needle
at 605 ft

Nevertheless, one of the most famous distinguishing features of Seattle is the Space Needle. This 605 feet tower, which was built for the 1962 World Fair, has become a favorite tourist attraction and a symbolic figure in Seattle. It is to Seattle as Sears Tower is to Chicago or the Statue of Liberty is to New York.

Edward Carlson envisioned the Space Needle, and he had the Stuttgart Tower in Germany to thank for the inspiration. Upon seeing the tower in Germany, he immediately made rough sketches on a napkin of something that would eventually become the Space Needle. Carlson’s original design had a top that looked like a floating balloon. However, the man who was responsible for bringing it to life was John Graham. For practical reasons, Graham and his team of architects decided to tweak Carlson’s original design, transforming the balloon top of the tower into a UFO. This is the sauce-topped tower we see now.

You’re probably wondering why Carlson would design something so futuristic. Well, the theme of the 1962 World Fair hosted in Seattle was “Century 21”, which explains why the Space Needle’s design had to be so. At 605 feet, the Needle seems to be teetering on a precarious ledge. However, the architects made sure that its concrete foundation was 30 feet deep in order to balance the structure. The actual tower and 24 lightning rods ensure that the structure is safe when lightning strikes.

Ever since it was created, the Space Needle has always had a light atop the structure. Through the years, this light has seen different “versions”, the most recent of which is the Legacy Light. The Legacy Light was first illuminated on New Year’s Eve of 1999/2000, as the whole world ushered in a new millennium. This beam of light shines its light skyward from the top of the Space Needle and is lit up to honor national holidays and commemorate other special occasions celebrated in Seattle.

The Space Needle owes part of its appeal to its observation deck, which is at 520 feet, and this provides a 360-degree view of Seattle’s landscape. Through telescopes found on the deck, you could zoom in on 60 different landmarks found around the city of Seattle.

The Needle also has a restaurant called the SkyCity, which revolves fully at 500 feet every hour. Incidentally, Where Magazine’s Visitors Choice Dining Awards named this restaurant “Best View”, and the Washington Wine Commission named it Best Restaurant for 2009. There is also the Skyline Banquet Facility that hosts events at 100 feet. If you want to go shopping for souvenirs, there is a gift shop at the base of the Space Needle aptly called the Space Base.

A trip to the Space Needle would be pretty special, and just the mere sight of this beautiful structure is enough to confirm that. If you haven’t been there, go and visit the place to find out why people are abuzz about it and why Seattle Weekly calls it the “Best Place to Get Engaged”.

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