What Is a Space Needle?
The Space Needle is an observation tower in Seattle, Washington, a landmark of the Pacific Northwest, and an icon of Seattle. It was built in the Seattle Center for the 1962 World’s Fair, which drew over 2.3 million visitors, when nearly 20,000 people a day used its elevators.
Inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, Edward E. Carlson sketched an initial drawing that featured a structure that resembled a tethered balloon. Over several years and with input from others, including architect John Graham, Carlson’s design morphed into the familiar flying saucer shape we know today.
When it was time to build, experts knew the tall structure needed a solid foundation. It took 467 cement trucks over 12 hours to pour concrete into a hole that was 30 feet deep and 120 feet wide.
When the enormous underground foundation was completed, it weighed almost the same as the carbon steel Space Needle structure itself. As a result, the huge observation tower’s center of gravity is just five feet above ground!
The Space Needle was completed in December 1961, and it opened to the public on April 21, 1962, the first day of the World’s Fair.
Featuring an observation deck with 360-degree views of Seattle and the surrounding area, as well as a revolving restaurant, the Space Needle was a huge hit with the over two million visitors of the World’s Fair.
Today, the Space Needle remains an icon of the Seattle landscape. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the city, where visitors can view Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.
The Space Needle stands 605 feet tall and is 138 feet wide. Weighing 9,550 tons, the structure can withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour, as well as earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitudes. The top of the
Space Needle also features 25 lightning rods that help to absorb and disperse the many lightning strikes the structure receives each day.