Seattle Space Needle

SpcndlEven though it pierces the sky to a height of 184.41 metres (605.0 ft), the Seattle Space Needle isn’t particularly tall as far as towers go. It is, nonetheless, a vital part of the Seattle skyline.

Having been built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the Space Needle is now over 50 years old, yet its design is such that the spire doesn’t really date and it still looks as futuristic today as it did when first constructed.

Although the design looks quite elegant, there is a powerful amount of engineering expertise hidden within its slender ribs. The tower was designed to remain stable in winds which could blow at 200mph, and to remain upright in earthquakes as powerful as 9.1 on the Richter scale. One of the first designs had the tower resembling a floating balloon, but it has ended up with a viewing platform that looks more like an alien spacecraft than a balloon.

Because it was built specifically for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle has no other use other than recreational. When it was built, the tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi, but that is not the case now, and it is not even the tallest building in Seattle anymore, although it is still the most distinctive and recognisable.

At the top of the tower is an observation deck and the SkyCity revolving restaurant, which takes one hour to complete a revolution. From the observation deck you can enjoy 360 degree views of the city and beyond. It takes just 40 seconds by elevator to go from the base of the tower to the observation deck, although often visitors need to queue for an hour or so in order to reach the top. The elevator still runs on windy days, but its speed is reduced to make it safer.

Seattle can experience lousy weather at times, but on a clear day the view from the top of the tower is sensational. With water on one side and some spectacular mountains on the other, plus the opportunity to gaze over Seattle’s downtown area, there is much to look at.

Of course, Mt Rainier is prominent in the southeast as are other mountains in the Cascade Range. There are great views over Puget Sound and Lake Washington, with vision being greatly enhanced by the Swarovski telescopes that are available on the observation deck.

There is a fee of $20 to ascend the Space Needle, but they do take a photo of you there, which is complimentary.

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