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Space Needle

It all began with Seattle being chosen for the 1962 World’s Fair.  An honor like this often prompts city officials to come up with a defining symbol for the city that will blow people’s minds and leave them in awe of the city.

At the time that the Space Needle was first envisioned Seattle was still a fairly small city, but one that was growing rapidly.  The artist who designed it, Edward E. Carlson was inspired by a similar tower that had just been built in Stuttgart Germany. He thought that civilizations future lay in space exploration and he wanted to build a tribute to that hope.

Originally the tower was supposed to look like a tethered balloon, but obviously there were some major design issues with that plan so the design ended up changing many times (even on paper) before the actual structure was decided on. In fact they had to bring in outside architects to finish the design, including the architect that designed the world’s first shopping mall.

Now that they had a design, the team needed cash to build this massive structure. Strangely enough this massive structure that has come to symbolize Seattle as a city was all privately financed.  The builders even had to by the land that the structure is located on, and that set them back $75,000. Now that they had the land and the design they had just 13 months to build it.

In many ways the building of the Space Needle was a lot easier than most people expected.  There was special attention paid to the observation deck and the revolving restaurant.  IN a marvel of engineering, the restaurant was so well balanced on the top of the structure that only a 1 horsepower engine is needed to rotate it.  Now that is an accomplishment worthy of the space age. The 605-foot tall Space Needle was completed in December 1961 and officially opened a mere four months later on the first day of the World's Fair, April 21, 1962.

The last pieces of the Space Needle to be installed were the elevators that would take the luck passengers up to the see a great view of the beautiful city. At the time, these where some of the fastest elevators in the world.  Some passengers even remarked that when the ascended the Needle in the winter it actually seemed like it was snowing upwards.

Ever since then the Space Needle has been a fixture on the Seattle skyline and it is truly the symbol that defines the city.  Even as the economy changed, and people stopped thinking that going to space was exciting, the needle has stood for Seattle and its ideas of progress.  The Space Needle has endured some rough times as well.  It has closed on occasion when the winds in the area have become to strong, and it has also survived several tremors that are common on the west coast.

All in all the Space Needle was built for 4.5 million dollars and since then more than 20 million dollars have been used to maintain and repair it.  But ask any resident of Seattle and they’ll tell you it is all worth it.