The 605 foot (184 meter) Space Needle was designed by Edward E. Carlson
for the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle. The futuristic structure has become
a symbol for the city, and is home to festive events such as the annual
New Year's Eve fireworks display.
The structure has gone through many transformations. Early plans called
for a tethered balloon. Carlson's plan called for a soaring needle topped
by a disk reminiscent of a flying saucer. The structure required a
120-foot-square underground foundation. 467 cement trucks spent an entire
day filling the hole. The completed foundation weighs as much as the Needle.
Massive steel beams form the slender legs and upper body. The structure
is designed to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour, but storms
occasionally force the facility to close. Several earth tremors have caused
the Needle to sway. However, the original designers doubled the 1962
building code requirements, enabling the Needle to withstand even greater jolts.
The Space Needle was completed in December 1961, and officially opened four
months later on the first day of the World's Fair, April 21, 1962. The Space
Needle is in the midst of a $20 million revitalization effort. Nearly every
aspect of the 1962 World’s Fair centerpiece has been or is being updated,
including the entry level, restaurant, and Observation Deck, all the way
down to the grounds surrounding the attraction.
The following information is a press release from the Seattle Needle Corporation.
The official World’s Fair poster in 1962 showed a grand spiral entryway
leading to the elevators that would take guests up the 605-foot Space
Needle. That vision is now a reality with the addition of the two-story,
glass-enclosed Pavilion Level. The Pavilion, which replaced the old retail,
ticketing and lobby facilities, resembles a transparent nautilus encircling
The updating of the SkyLine Level – the meeting, banquet and special
events facility nestled 100 feet above the Landmark’s base – began Phase
II of the Space Needle revitalization project. Using the design direction
of the SkyCity restaurant as a foundation, the challenge is to create an
atmosphere complementary and clearly associated with the restaurant, but
radiating its own unique personality.
The eateries known as the Space Needle Restaurant and Emerald Suite
were closed forever in March 2000. In their place, a completely
new restaurant, SkyCity, was created at the Space Needle. A dynamic
new décor, vibrant uniforms, and a fresh new menu featuring a variety
of Pacific Northwest entrees is helping establish SkyCity as one of
Seattle’s top dining destinations.
Based on the Space Needle’s “Live the View” theme, the redesigned
O Deck offers a 360° unobstructed view. All O Deck activities have
been moved to the inside portion of the level, giving visitors a clear
walking path and vantage points from every angle. Not since the
Landmark opened in 1962 has there been this kind of viewing experience
at the Space Needle.
Mirroring the orbiting form of the Space Needle’s “flying saucer” top,
and the base addition, the Broad Street turnaround is a circular valet
and drop-off area on the south side of the Space Needle, and the gateway
to Seattle Center. The north plaza also was redesigned and expanded as
a more inviting and alive place for people to meet and gather, with
landscaping and seating added.
The Space Needle’s Legacy Light was first illuminated on New Year’s
Eve 1999/2000, and has been shown on major national holidays. A beam
of light that shines skyward from the top of the Space Needle, the
Legacy Light honors national holidays and commemorates special occasions
in Seattle. The Legacy Light is based on the original concept of a beam
of light shining atop the Space Needle, as depicted in the official
1962 World’s Fair poster.