- At approximately 605 ft (184 m), the Space Needle was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River at the time it was built by Howard S. Wright Construction Co., but is now dwarfed by other structures along the Seattle skyline, among them the Columbia Center , at 967 ft (295 m).
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- December 1961
- April 21, 1962
- April 21, 1999
It all started with a doodle…In 1959, Seattle hotel executive Edward E. Carlson, who was a chief organizer of the 1962 World’s Fair, traveled to Stuttgart Germany where he was inspired by a broadcast tower featuring a restaurant. He doodled an idea of a dominant central structure for the fair on a napkin in a hotel café convinced that such a tower could make a permanent center-piece for the fair and an enduring symbol for Seattle. He called it a “Space Needle.”With innovation comes challenges...
Home sweet home … planting our three legs.Location and financing were also major challenges. The tower had to be privately financed and situated on land that could be acquired for private use on the fairgrounds. Early investigations indicated such a plot of land did not exist. However, just before the search was abandoned, a suitable 120-foot-by-120-lot on the site of an old fire station was found and sold to investors for $75,000 in 1961, just 13 months before the opening of the World’s Fair...
Let’s get ‘Spacey’The basic Space Needle tower was completed in December 1961, eight months after it began. In keeping with the 21st Century theme of the World’s Fair, the final coats of paint were dubbed ‘Astronaut White’ for the legs, ‘Orbital Olive’ for the core of the structure, ‘Re-entry Red’ for the Halo and ‘Galaxy Gold’ for the sunburst and pagoda roof. The Space Needle’s chief engineer, John Minasian, had also designed rocket gantries for NASA.
Opening day. Hooray!The Space Needle officially opened the first day of the World’s Fair. During the expo the tower hosted an estimated 2.65 million visitors. They included world celebrities including Elvis Presley, the Shah and Empress of Iran, Prince Philip of Great Britain, Bobby Kennedy, Walter Cronkite, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Chubby Checker, Billy Graham, John Glenn, Jonas Salk, Carol Channing, Neil Armstrong, Lyndon Johnson, Walt Disney and scores of others. The mast originally topping t...
The WheedleLocal Seattle author Stephen Cosgrove introduced the beloved character, the Wheedle. The infamously shy, orange character resembled Bigfoot with a bright red nose and lived atop the tower. He was featured in a popular children’s story and later became the mascot for Seattle’s NBA basketball team, the SuperSonics.
SkyLineThe 100’ SkyLine level was added as a special event space, hosting view-spectacular weddings, receptions, and business meetings.
The Space Needle falls…April Fools!One evening in 1989, the KING-TV Almost Live comedy show ran a spoof news bulletin announcing that the Space Needle had fallen over. The live broadcast included a mocked-up graphic of the tower in ruins on the ground. The April Fools prank received international attention and overwhelmed Seattle’s 9-1-1 emergency system with people who believed it was real.
Legacy LightsThe Space Needle unveiled its Legacy Lights for the first time. The powerful beam of light is powered by lamps that total 85 million candela shinning upwards from the top of the tower to honor national holidays and special occasions. The Legacy Lights remained lit for eleven days straight in response to the September 11th attacks in 2001.
37 Looks Good on you. Happy Birthday!On April 21, 1999, the Space Needle’s 37th birthday, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Board named it an official City of Seattle Landmark. In its Report on Designation, the Landmarks Preservation Board wrote, “The Space Needle marks a point in history of the City of Seattle and represents American aspirations towards technological prowess. [It] embodies in its form and construction the era’s belief in commerce, technology and progress.”
The tower completed a $20 million revitalization in 2000. The project included construction of the Pavilion Level, SpaceBase retail store, SkyCity restaurant, Observation Deck improvements, exterior lighting additions, exterior painting and more. In comparison, the Space Needle was built in for about $4.5 million dollars in 1962.
Space RaceFor the Space Needle’s 50th anniversary, it sponsored “Space Race 2012,” a contest that selected one lucky individual to win an actual flight into orbit. The contest was announced by Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 astronaut who was the second man to walk the moon.
Century ProjectIn September 2017, the Space Needle commenced construction on the largest renovation project in its history, “The Century Project.” The renovation aimed to reveal the tower’s internal structure and harken back to the original conceptual sketches, all while expanding and improving its views. The Space Needle remained open to the public during its 360-degree “Spacelift,” revealing its new look in late summer of 2018. Guests are now surrounded by two breathtaking, multi-level, flo...
At approximately 605 ft (184 m), the Space Needle was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River at the time it was built by Howard S. Wright Construction Co., but is now dwarfed by other structures along the Seattle skyline, among them the Columbia Center, at 967 ft (295 m).
It cost $4.5 million to build the Space Needle in 1962. In 2018, the Century Project renovation cost closer to $100 million. The Space Needle is privately owned by the Wright family and sits on a 120-foot by 120-foot private parcel of land on the Seattle Center campus. The Space Needle is the only private property on the Seattle Center’s 74-acre campus. The Space Needle stands at 605 feet tall.
Five Seattle investors organized the ^Pentagram orporation _ to build the Space Needle. They were financier Bagley Wright, contractor Howard S. Wright, architect John Graham, Jr., financier
The designer of the nation’s first shopping mall, John Graham, created the final, saucer-shaped design of the Seattle Space Needle. It was built in a record-breaking 400 days, earning it the nickname “The 400 Day Wonder.”
1 day ago · Sixty years ago, ground was broken for our city’s 605-foot Space Needle — on April 17, 1961, to be exact. A year later, on April 21, 1962, the Seattle World’s Fair opened, and so did the Needle.
May 01, 2018 · The Space Needle wasn’t the only construction built for the fair that year. The entire Seattle Center, from the tall legged Science Pavilion to the monorail to what is now known as the Key Arena, is all thanks to the 1962 celebration. So when visiting the Space Needle, it’s worth taking a walk around the needle’s grounds.
- Samantha Ladwig
2 days ago · Additional NOW of Space Needle. (Jean Sherrard) Additional NOW of Space Needle. (Jean Sherrard) Cover of “Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle” by Knute Berger (Documentary Media, 2012) A full year of newspaper clippings, documenting the Space Needle under construction, April 22, 1961, to April 22, 1962: April 22, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
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