What Is the Space Needle? (2024)

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What Is the Space Needle? (1)


Have You Ever Wondered...

  • What is the Space Needle?
  • How tall is the Space Needle?
  • When was the Space Needle built?


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  • Geography,
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Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Laurie. Laurie Wonders, “What is the Seattle Space Needle?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Laurie!

Have you ever been to the Pacific Northwest? In addition to beautiful mountains and gorgeous ocean views, you can also enjoy a slice of life in the big city. Seattle, for example, offers a multitude of unique opportunities for residents and tourists alike.

If you travel to Seattle, there's one landmark you're sure to notice right away. Standing tall against the backdrop of the city skyline, you'll spot something that looks a bit like a tower crossed with an unidentified flying object (UFO). What are we talking about? The Space Needle, of course!

In 1962, Seattle hosted the World's Fair, which focused on what life might be like in the 21st century. The city wanted an iconic landmark to be built for the World's Fair that would represent its futuristic vision.

Inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, Edward E. Carlson sketched an initial drawing that featured a structure that resembled a tethered balloon. Over several years and with input from others, including architect John Graham, Carlson's design morphed into the familiar flying saucer shape we know today.

When it was time to build, experts knew the tall structure needed a solid foundation. It took 467 cement trucks over 12 hours to pour concrete into a hole that was 30 feet deep and 120 feet wide.

When the enormous underground foundation was completed, it weighed almost the same as the carbon steel Space Needle structure itself. As a result, the huge observation tower's center of gravity is just five feet above ground!

The Space Needle was completed in December 1961, and it opened to the public on April 21, 1962, the first day of the World's Fair. Featuring an observation deck with 360-degree views of Seattle and the surrounding area, as well as a revolving restaurant, the Space Needle was a huge hit with the over two million visitors of the World's Fair.

Today, the Space Needle remains an icon of the Seattle landscape. It's one of the top tourist destinations in the city, where visitors can view Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.

The Space Needle stands 605 feet tall and is 138 feet wide. Weighing 9,550 tons, the structure can withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour, as well as earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude. The top of the Space Needle also features 25 lightning rods that help to absorb and disperse the many lightning strikes the structure receives each day.

Many visitors enjoy the 41-second elevator ride to the observation deck at 520 feet. If you're hungry, you can also enjoy a gourmet meal at the rotating SkyCity restaurant just below the observation deck.

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Try It Out

Ready to learn even more about the Space Needle? Find a few friends or family members to help you explore the following activities:

  • Want to get a live look at Seattle and what's going on around the Space Needle? Jump online to check out the Space Needle Webcam! Explore fabulous views from high above the Seattle skyline!
  • For another spectacular online experience that's the next best thing to being at the top of the Space Needle, check out the Space Needle Panocam, which provides 360-degree, panoramic views of the area. Which view is your favorite? Why?
  • Up for a challenge? Design a landmark monument for the city you live in. If there was going to be a World's Fair held today, what kind of monument would you want to build to showcase your city's unique flair? Draw a sketch of your creation and share it with friends and family members. What do they think? Is your idea cooler than the Space Needle?

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Wonder Contributors

We’d like to thank:

owen from TX
for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic!

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Wonder Words

  • build
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  • hole
  • rod
  • wind
  • landmark
  • skyline
  • concrete
  • saucer
  • disperse
  • absorb
  • enormous
  • morphed
  • tethered
  • futuristic
  • backdrop
  • multitude

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What Is the Space Needle? (3)


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What Is the Space Needle? (2024)


What are 5 facts about the Space Needle? ›

10 Facts About the Space Needle You Should Know
  • The Observation Tower Was Built in 1961. ...
  • It's Incredibly Tall and Has Multiple Viewing Areas. ...
  • The Design Was Inspired by a German Broadcast Tower. ...
  • Its Construction Was an Ambitious Project That Made History. ...
  • The Space Needle Is a Privately Owned Building.
Mar 6, 2024

What is the Space Needle supposed to be? ›

The result was the Space Needle, a futuristic 184-metre-tall observation tower. The goal was to showcase the scenic beauty of the region, symbolise and dramatise Space Age architecture with its “flying saucer” motif, and prove commercially viable with the first free-standing revolving restaurant in the world.

Is it worth it to go up the Space Needle? ›

Past visitors agreed that the Space Needle is a must for first-time visitors to Seattle, and recommend either purchasing your ticket online in advance or showing up early to avoid long lines. Several said they bought the combo ticket that also includes access to Chihuly Garden and Glass.

How much time to spend at Space Needle? ›

allow at least 1 1/2 to two hours in Chihuly, and at least 1 1/2 for space needle.

What's on top of the Space Needle? ›

Traditionally referred to as the “top house,” the Space Needle's saucer-like top is now called the Atmos and includes the tower's 520-foot and 500-foot observation levels and the 510-foot Ring Level. A newly- installed grand staircase, the Oculus Stairs, now connects guests to all three levels.

Who owns Space Needle? ›

Space Needle
CompletedDecember 8, 1961
OpeningApril 21, 1962
OwnerSpace Needle Corporation
28 more rows

Does the Space Needle actually spin? ›

It takes 45 minutes for the observation deck to do a full rotation. Two sets of stairs called the Oculus Stairs were added to connect the two new additional levels. They were named after the glass oculus at the base of the stairs where the Space Needle elevators can be seen ascending and descending.

Why is the Space Needle so cool? ›

The tower's 520' saucer-shaped “top house” offers visitors Seattle's only 360-degree indoor and outdoor panoramic views of downtown, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges.

Is the Space Needle elevator scary? ›

Those who have a fear of heights may have some trouble with this trip. The elevator goes up and down quickly, the glass is a bit disarming on the observation deck, and the rotating deck has a glass floor showing how high you really are.

Is Seattle Space Needle safe? ›

The Space Needle uses the Evolv Edge® high-speed smart checkpoint system at the entrances for all Guests as part of its guest safety protocols. Evolv Security Screening emits no signal and uses millimeter wave technology that operates in a similar frequency band to screening units currently deployed in U.S. airports.

How much does it cost to go inside the Space Needle? ›

Space Needle General Admission
Regular (ages 13-64)$35-$46.50
Senior (ages 65+)$30-$39.50
Youth (ages 5-12)$26-$35

Is the Space Needle free? ›

What's not to love about going to one of the highest points in the city and taking in the view, especially in a city surrounded by water, mountains and greenery? General Space Needle tickets range in price from $24.50 to $37.50, depending on age, when you buy, and whether you are buying tickets for seniors or children.

How many floors is the Space Needle? ›

Can you go inside the Space Needle? ›

All admissions tickets include: Access to the Space Needle's 520-foot indoor and open-air observation level. Access to The Loupe—the world's first and only revolving glass floor—located on the 500-foot observation level. Access to digital experiences including Stratos VR, a new virtual reality bungee jump experience.

What is the nickname for the Space Needle? ›

It's Nicknamed “The 400 Day Wonder

The designer of the nation's first shopping mall, John Graham, created the final, saucer-shaped design of the Seattle Space Needle. It was built in a record-breaking 400 days, earning it the nickname “The 400 Day Wonder.” Upon its completion, it was featured at the 1962 World's Fair.

How many people go up Space Needle? ›

Approximately 1.3 million people visit the Space Needle every year.

How many stairs are in the Space Needle? ›

832 steps, 98 flights of stairs, 520 feet in the air. Are the stairs indoor or open-air?

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