The Space Needle located in Seattle, Washington is a tower and a recognizable symbol of Seattle . The Space Needle is 605 feet (184 m) high at its highest point and 138 feet (42 m) wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. When it was completed it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River .
The architecture of the Space Needle is the result of a compromise between designs of two architects, Edward E. Carlson and John Graham. The Space Needle was design to withstand wind velocities of 200 mph (320 km/h), double the requirements in the building code of 1962 and can escape serious structural damage during earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude. An earthquake registering 6.8 on the Richter Scale jolted the Needle enough in 2001 for water to slosh out of the toilets in the restrooms.
Edward E. Carlson, chairman of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, originally had an idea for erecting a tower with a restaurant at the World’s Fair. It was privately built and financed by the “Pentagram Corporation”. The Seattle Space Needle was constructed between 1961 and 1962 specifically for the 1962 World’s Fair and is now is a world wide recognizable symbol of Seattle. During the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle saw nearly 20,000 people a day using its elevators in order to look out the Observation Deck. The elevator which takes visitors up to the Observation Deck travels at 10mph and takes only 43 seconds to reach the top. On exceedingly windy days the elevators are slowed down to 5 mph The 605-foot tall 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 was built for just $4.5 million, and has had its share of milestones, including numerous weddings and a jump by six parachutists. In 2000, the Space Needle completed a $20 million revitalization. The year-long project included construction of the Pavilion Level, SpaceBase retail store, SkyCity restaurant, O Deck overhaul, exterior lighting additions, Legacy Light installations, exterior painting and more.
Space Needle Suicide
Three people have committed suicide by leaping from the Space Needle’s observation platform in 1970s. Two of them jumped in 1974, before a “safety grid” was installed around the platform. Others have occasionally made it through the safety grid, but police negotiators have succed to rescue them.
Six jumpers have used parachutes to break their fall as part of a sport known as BASE jumping. Six parachutists have leaped from the tower since its opening, but this activity is illegal without prior consent. Four jumpers were part of various promotions, and the other two were arrested.
The Space Needle hosted over 2.3 million visitors during the World’s Fair and is still, over 40 years later, Seattle’s best tourist destination. Visitors can reach the top of the Space Needle via elevators that travel at 10 mph (16 km/h). The trip takes 43 seconds but visitors may wait hours when the tower is bus .
The Space Needle features an observation deck at 520 feet (160 m), and a gift shop with the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet (152 m). From the top of the Space Needle visitor can see not only the Downtown Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands.