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Seattle Skyline with Space Needle
Space Needle Turns 60!
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Seattle Space Needle

These days you can’t think about the State of Washington without envisioning the iconic Space Needle towering over the Seattle skyline. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, for which the theme “The Age of Space” conjured the futuristic flying saucer balanced on three spindly legs in the mind of the fair’s Chief Organizer, Edward E. Carlson. 

Officially opening on April 21, 1962 the Needle has been visited by over 60 million visitors, and is considered the Number One tourist attraction in the Pacific Northwest. The structure was completed in about 400 days, and the ironworkers average hourly wage was $3.92. Construction cost $4.5 million.

At that time, five men calling themselves the “Pentagram Corporation” financed the building of the Space Needle, which cost $4.5 million to complete (about $38.5 million in today’s dollars). In 1977 four of the partners sold their interests to the fifth, Howard S. Wright, who now owns the Space Needle through the renamed Space Needle, LLC.

The original Needle featured the first free-standing rotating restaurant in the world, which offered 360 degree views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier and the Puget Sound, as well as the Olympic mountain range to the west, and the Cascades to the east. An aircraft warning beacon sits atop the Needle, 605 feet above the city. Originally the top featured a flaming torch of natural gas that cast a rainbow of light across the night sky. To ring in the 21st Century, a Legacy Light now shines from the top, projecting a brilliant beam of light toward space.

Photo: Pete Freund Photography

The Loupe - revolving glass floor

Preservation and Renovation

In 2017 a major renovation began to preserve and update the then 57-year-old structure. There are now two levels from which you have views of the city – the upper observation deck features open air “floor to forever” glass, including glass benches, for a completely uninhibited sight! The level beneath features a revolving glass floor, for views 500 feet straight down under your feet. Here you will find the Loupe Lounge, offering showstopping mixology.

On the upper observation level you can also enjoy local artisan treats, espresso, beer and wine at Atmos Café including Pinkabella Cupcakes and Whidbey Island Ice Cream. Atmos Wine Bar, also on the upper observation level, offers beer and wine, soft drinks, coffee, and grab-and-go snacks. (Seating at both locations is first come-first served). To get between the levels, the circular Oculus Stairs are made of wood, steel and glass, allowing views of the steel superstructure, elevators and counterweights. 

If you can’t wrap your head around the view from the Space Needle, go to their website to see a 360 degree Panocam:

Photo: Space Needle LLC

Space NeedleCelebrating 60 Years

To celebrate their 60 years, you can share your favorite Space Needle memory and enter to win a prize package that includes helping to paint the roof Gold to honor this anniversary. 


Photo: Pete Freund Photography

Celebrity Visits

Over the years many celebrities from movie stars, to musicians, to politicians have visited what was in 1962 the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Elvis Presley filmed “It Happened At The World’s Fair” from the Seattle City Center – the Needle is even depicted in the movie’s promo graphics.  John Lenon refused to go up, claiming a fear of heights.

In 1966 a ten-year-old boy memorized the Sermon on the Mount and his church awarded him a dinner at the revolving restaurant (called the “Eye of the Needle” from 1962-1979). Virtually unknown at the time, but now a philanthropist well known around the world, billionaire Bill Gate’s foundation headquarters is presently located across the street from the Needle. 

Base 2 Space

The Space Needle is proud to support local organizations, including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center through an event called “Base 2 Space.” The first Sunday in October is the only time the stairs from the ground to the observation deck are open to the public, and participants climb the 832 stairs to the top! While no event was held at the Needle in 2020 (due to Covid-19) the previous 5 years events raised over $3 million dollars for cancer research. Details about a 2022 event are still in the planning stages. 

Firework Show at the Space Needle

Fireworks Shows

Since 1982 the Space Needles has been the sight of a fantastic display to ring in the New Year. Choreographed to patriotic and inspirational music, the show typically lasts 10 minutes, and is awe-inspiring! That is, until the year 2020 – when the fireworks show was not able to touch off, due to extremely high winds. 

When the Seattle Seahawks played in the 2013 Super Bowl XLVIII in Rutherford NJ, back home at the Needle, fireworks shot to the sky after every Seahawks touchdown. The pyrotechnic team realized they had to ration the explosives to last until the end of the game. Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8.

Photo thanks to Wikipedia

Safety at the Needle

The Coronavirus pandemic has established new guidelines for visitors, including masks and limited visitors for social distancing. Please be prepared for changes and check their website for the latest information, hours, and any closures. Their website states that the Space Needle is safely open with limited capacity and industry-leading Elevating Clean standards.

The Space Needle is designed to withstand 200 mile per hour winds, and even earthquakes. In 1965 a 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the region, but the worst damage suffered at the Needle was a broken bottle of champagne!

For more information about current safety programs and policies, plus hours of operation, see