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Getting High at the Seattle Space Needle

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Getting High at the Seattle Space Needle
Photo credit: By Yatharth (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve seen it. You’ve heard about it. But what do you really know about the Space Needle? If you are like me, chances are you don’t know much. I would see the Space Needle in movies, television, and various photographs, tipping me off to the fact that we were looking at an image of Seattle. However, that was the only thing I really knew about it…until I dug deeper. So, let’s dig in together, shall we?

The Space Needle in Seattle is one of the most iconic landmarks, not only in Seattle, but in the world. Inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, the Space Needle’s 400 day construction was completed in December of 1961, just four months ahead of the 1962 World’s Fair held in Seattle. The tallest point in the structure, an aircraft warning beacon, tops out at 605 feet – which, according to, measured as the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was built. The Seattle Space Needle sits on a concrete foundation that is 120 feet across and 30 feet deep. During construction, it is said that it took “467 concrete trucks an entire day to fill the hole,” marking the West’s largest continuous concrete pour.

Designers of Seattle’s Space Needle made sure to account for the wind as well. The tower sways one inch for every 10 miles per hour of wind. Don’t let that make you nervous, however. The Needle can withstand wind gusts of up to an amazing 200 miles per hour! Besides, when you are inside, you can hardly feel it sway at all…(Relax, we’re just kidding!)

High atop the tower rests the structure’s dome. This five level feature includes both an observation deck and a restaurant – which both treat visitors to breathtaking panoramic views of Seattle and the surrounding areas. The Observation Deck sits 520 feet high. From there, nothing will block your magnificent view of the Cascade Mountains, Elliot Bay, or Mt. Rainier – the “Emerald City’s” other iconic landmark. There are 848 steps from the basement to the top of observation deck, so make sure to bring your walking shoes…or simply take one of the building’s two high-speed elevators. You can race to the top in just 43 seconds, traveling at a speed of 10 MPH. Even under high wind conditions of over 35 MPH, these elevators still travel at 5 MPH making your journey up the needle a quick and easy one. Visitors may also purchase “timed tickets” which allow you to reserve your space for any of the “launch times” that take place every 30 minutes throughout the day. Several different ticketing packages are available, beginning at just over $10 per person.

Getting High at the Seattle Space Needle
Photo credit: By Flickr user: Anne Hornyak Chicago, Illinois [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

SkyCity Restaurant is also located in the dome. The restaurant actually revolves, so diners are able to enjoy all the sights that the city has to offer from 500 feet – without even moving from their seat! Chef Jeff Maxfield’s brunch, lunch, and dinner menus offer delicious local favorites of seafood and land fare alike. Diners may wear anything from casual to formal attire provided that it is appropriate for this family dining environment. Better yet, your tickets for the Observation Deck and elevator ride are included when you decide to eat at SkyCity. Now, that is what I call SWEET!

Seattle’s reputation for rain, surprisingly, may be a bit inaccurate! According to the Space Needle’s website, it actually rains more in Boston, New York, and Atlanta than it does in Seattle. In fact, the area receives an average of about 71 days of sun from May to September, which means that your magnificent views from the Space Needle probably won’t be obstructed by any rain clouds during these months.

So, if you are making a trip to the Great Northwest, make sure to “get high” in the Seattle Space Needle! Go ahead. Look down…and don’t forget to bring your camera!

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