As if experiencing the beautiful and colorful city of Seattle from street level wasn’t enough, seeing a 360° view of the city from 520 feet in the air was sure to put our day in Seattle over the top. Coming from Chicago though, which I truly believe has the world’s best skyline, I was feeling a bit partial to my hometown and skeptical that this would even come close. But what definitely sets Seattle apart from Chicago is its view of the surrounding offshore islands and mountain ranges–of which Chicago has none.
View of Mt. Rainier in the shadow of the city
Ferries and ships crossing beautiful Elliott’s Bay
I had missed a visit to the Space Needle my first trip to Seattle due to the rainy, cloudy weather while I was there. This trip, however, it was unusually clear and sunny for February and we decided to make the most of it. After a full day at Pike Place Market — another Seattle icon — we thought there could be no better way to end the day than seeing the sunset from the top of The Needle. We expected that since it was such a brilliant day, the line would be long but were pleasantly surprised to find no line at all. So after paying our $22.00 admission (kind of steep) and boarding the elevator, we were at the top in 43 seconds flat. We had about an hour before the sun was due to set so we walked around the observation deck, took a few photos, and headed back in for a glass of wine. There are two options for food/drink at the top. First, the famed revolving Sky City Restaurant. A full service, sit down restaurant where reservations are highly recommended (click here for info and to make yours). I cannot speak about this option as we had chosen to eat dinner at another of Seattle’s finest dining establishments Wild Ginger (awesome Thai cuisine!) The second option is a cafeteria style kiosk which serves cold sandwiches, chips, other assorted snacks/soft drinks and, most importantly, beer and wine. There are high tables around the perimeter providing a perfect view while having a quick nosh and sipping your beverage of choice.
The sunset didn’t disappoint nor did the view of the sparkling city after dark and all in all the experience was well worth the hefty admission fee. For some great photos and an unrivaled view, I’d recommend a trip up for anyone visiting Seattle. Here are a few important things to know before you go along with some fun facts:
- The iconic symbol of Seattle is located at the Seattle Center and was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair.
- Getting there is easy–Luckily, the Space Needle is such a tall landmark that you can walk right to it from any direction, all you have to do is look up. It is about a 15-20 walk from Pikes Place fish market, another must visit attraction in Seattle.
- From the top of the Needle, one can see not only the Downtown Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and the surrounding islands.
- The Space Needle is 605 feet high at its highest point and 138 feet wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. When it was completed it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River.
- It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude. (which would protect the structure against an earthquake as powerful as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake). The tower also has 25 lightning rods on its roof to prevent lightning damage.
- The foundation weighs 5,850 tons and there are 250 tons of reinforcing steel alone (i.e., rebar) in the foundation. The Needle structure weighs 3,700 tons.
- Photographs of the Seattle skyline often show the Space Needle in a prominent position, even appearing to tower above the rest of the city’s skyscrapers, as well as Mount Rainier in the background. This occurs because the tower, which is equivalent in height to a 60-story building, stands roughly four-fifths of a mile northwest of most downtown skyscrapers.
- Visitors can reach the top of the Space Needle via elevators that travel at 10 mph except on extremely windy days when the elevators are slowed down to a speed of 5 mph. At normal speed, the trip takes 43 seconds.
- There are 848 steps from the bottom of the basement to the top of the Observation Deck.
- On a hot day the Space Needle expands about one inch.
- Plans to build a stork’s nest atop the Needle were canceled when it was learned that storks could not live in Seattle’s climate and would migrate to warmer climates.
- The Space Needle is approximately 1,320 Milky Way candy bars (605 feet) tall.
- Many celebrities (aside from us) have visited the Space Needle; they include Kelsey Grammer and all the cast of Cheers, Elvis Presley, Mike Myers, Demi Moore, Melanie Griffith, John Travolta, Vanna White, Michael Douglas, Tim Robbins, Claudia Schiffer, Scott Bakula, Paul Reiser, Bruce Lee, numerous professional athletes, several world-famous musicians and numerous world leaders and dignitaries.
With so much to do and see, it’s very easy to find yourself Sleepless in Seattle!