Space Needle

Photo by: Yatharth, CC

Like the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Willis Tower in Chicago, the space needle in Seattle immediately separates the city’s skyline from any other in the world. It is a major landmark in the Pacific Northwest and a big draw for tourists from all over the planet. It has an observation deck that provides guests with a bird’s eye view of the entire city including the surrounding islands, Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.


The initial design for the Space Needle was a combination of two designs. The first was by Edward Carlson who visualized it as a balloon tethered to the ground; the idea came to him while dining at a restaurant on top of Stuttgart Tower in 1959. He scribbled the plan for the “restaurant in the sky” on a place mat. The other design was by famed architect, John Graham. His concept was for a revolving restaurant, inspired by a UFO style. The combination of the two ideas is what gave rise to the present day Space Needle that features a disc on top of a flared spire.


The Space Needle was constructed for the 1962 world fair. Its construction was financed privately; the site was bought for $75,000 in 1961, 13 months before the world fair was scheduled to begin. The Construction started on April 17th, 1961 and lasted about eight months. The foundation was 120 feet across and 30 feet deep; the hole was filled by 467 cement trucks in a single day. The steel tower was affixed to the ground by 72 30-foot long bolts. Construction was completed December 8th,1961. The construction alone cost $4.5 million.

Size and Statistics

The tower is 138 feet wide and 605 feet high. The foundation weighs 5,850 tons including 250 tons of reinforced steel; in total, the building weighs 9,550 tons. There are 25 lightning rods fitted on the roof in order to reduce the impact of lightning strikes. The Observation deck is 520 feet from the ground and there are 848 steps separating the deck and the basement.

The 1962 World’s Fair

The Space Needle was opened as the center of attention at the world’s fair held in Seattle. The Fair had a 21st century theme and the futuristic design of the Space Needle was a call to embrace the future. Even the colors of the building incorporated the space age theme. The roof was painted “Galaxy Gold,” the center has an “Orbital Olive” color and the legs are “Astronaut White.” The initial poster for the World’s Fair featured a beam of light rising atop the Space Needle; this light beam would later on be referred to as the Legacy Light. The Legacy Light was first lit on New Year’s Eve, 1999. It is used to commemorate special occasions in Seattle and honor national holidays.


The Space Needle has a 200 seat revolving restaurant, an observation Deck and a gift shop at the base. The restaurant uses a turntable that has a 125-ton track-and-wheel system to rotate. It also features a banquet facility.


Guests can ride to the top on either one of two high speed elevators that ascend and descend at 10mph. A ride to the observation deck takes about 43 seconds. When it snows, visitors riding the elevator up get the amazing sensation that snow is moving from the ground as opposed to coming from the sky. The elevators are slightly slowed down on windy days.

Visitor Information

The Space Needle is open to visitors all year round, with exception of special events and construction. An entry ticket costs $17 for adults, $15 for active military and seniors, and $9 for children below the age of 13. You can find the exact opening times on the official website.

Fun Facts

The Space Needle was initially named “The Space Cage” and its rotating restaurant was referred to as the “eye of the needle.” It was initially built to withstand earthquakes of up to 9.5 on the Richter scale; in 1965, an earthquake of 6.5 rocked the building; there was no structural damage but the quake caused water in the toilets to slosh out. Since its opening, only three people have successfully committed suicide by jumping off the Building; six more attempts have been made after safety mesh was erected around the Observation deck. On a hot day, the buildings steel can expand by as much as an inch. The Space Needle houses the second revolving restaurant on the planet.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

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