Well over a million people visit the Space Needle each year. Is a trip to this historic Seattle attraction in your future? After you read this, you just might be ready to plan one!
Seattle is home to much more than rain and tech companies. The city is known for being the birthplace of grunge and riot grrrl music, the home of famous artists from Jimi Hendrix to Sherman Alexie, and much more. However, the Space Needle is one of the most iconic features that defines the city skyline to many visitors.
If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Seattle, your visit might not feel complete without a trip to the Seattle Space Needle. Here are the coolest Space Needle facts that will make your visit that much more exciting!
Why Was the Space Needle Built?
In 1962, a World’s Fair with a space-age theme was set in Seattle. The Space Needle was a way for the city to show off, with the eyes of the world watching.
When Was the Space Needle Built?
The Space Needle was built in 1962, when the World’s Fair came to Seattle. At first, its name was the Space Cage.
On April 21 of that year, it opened to the public, after over a year of construction. The project cost $4.5 million, and since its opening, close to 60 million visitors have come to this landmark.
How Tall is the Space Needle?
The Space Needle is far from being the tallest building in Seattle, but it does reach 605 feet in the air, with an observation deck at 520 feet. It’s tall enough to be used as a warning beacon for aircraft!
The Sky City Restaurant at the Space Needle’s top sits at 500 feet, giving you a birds-eye view of the city. This restaurant was originally named Eye of the Needle. It slowly rotates, so you can see all the way around the city in the course of one meal, even though you can hardly feel it moving at all.
Who Designed the Space Needle?
The World’s Fair organizer Edward E. Carlson first came up with the idea for the Space Needle. He initially sketched the design on a restaurant napkin in 1959. However, it was John Graham who oversaw the final design and construction of this landmark.
Graham was also responsible for the final appearance of the building, which would have looked a lot different according to Carlson’s design. The original sketch looked kind of like a balloon attached to the ground. Graham had the idea to make the shape more like the iconic flying saucer of the time period.
This also wasn’t Graham’s only building. He also was in charge of the design and construction of Northgate Mall, a very different kind of Seattle landmark. Although today, Northgate Mall looks like any other mall in America, it does have one claim to fame: it was the first American building to be called a “mall” by name.
Who Owns the Space Needle?
It comes as a surprise to many visitors that the Space Needle is privately owned. The Wright family is in charge of this Seattle attraction, and the land it sits on, which is a square in Seattle Center with sides of 120 feet.
The rest of the Seattle Center, which covers 74 acres, is owned by the public. The Space Needle sits on the only privately-owned section.
What Keeps the Space Needle Standing?
With its saucer top and narrow base, the Space Needle can look precarious. However, this building is actually incredibly sturdy.
The foundation of the building actually goes 30 feet below the ground. The above-ground portion of the building is connected to its foundation with 72 bolts, each of which is 30 feet long! This means there’s no toppling this building: its center of gravity is just five feet off the ground.
In 1989, the local NBC Affiliate ran an April Fools newscast spoof that faked the Space Needle Collapsing. Although it freaked out the Northwest, the Space Needle still stands.
How Long Does it Take to Visit the Space Needle?
To get from the ground to the top level by elevator takes just 43 seconds. However, if you’re planning your trip to the Space Needle, you’ll want to give yourself at least an hour or two to check out the observation deck. If you plan to stop for a meal at the revolving restaurant, you might want even more time.
What if I’m Scared of Heights?
The Space Needle offers comfortable vantage points for those who are afraid of being far above ground, but it also has more thrilling moments for those who want to confront their fears head-on.
The new glass floor called The Loupe was just installed earlier this year. It doesn’t cover the whole building, but those brave enough to walk across it will get to see unique perspectives of the city, as well as the elevators and the architecture of the building itself.
How Does the Space Needle Get Cleaned?
For a long time, it didn’t! The first time this landmark was washed was in 2008, more than four decades after it opened. To clean it, professionals used hot water under high pressure, which effectively scrubbed away the grime that had built up over the decades.
Will the Space Needle Ever Be Sold?
Although it’s privately owned, you don’t have to worry about the Space Needle being sold, and moved to Oklahoma City anytime soon. It’s an iconic part of the Seattle landscape, and any threats of sale would provoke outrage among the city’s citizens.
However, people have tried to buy it. Most notably, some businessmen from the nearby town of Fife bid a million dollars to the Space Needle’s owners in 1978. However, they turned the deal down without question.
Ready for a Trip to the Seattle Space Needle?
Every city has its own unique landmarks, and there’s nowhere quite like the Seattle Space Needle. It’s at once a relic of the past and a vision toward the future. With frequent, carefully planned updates, like the glass floor of The Loupe, this building is a modern attraction with a strong connection to the past.
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