Towering above the most important business hub in the Pacific Northwest is the Seattle Space Needle. The imposing tower has become the international icon of this powerhouse of commerce, sometimes referred to as the Emerald City.
The structure is next to the Pacific Science Center and the Museum of Pop Culture in the heart of the city. The top of the tower has a saucer shape with a revolving observation deck. It is arguably one of the best-known landmarks in the world.
So, how tall is the Seattle Space Needle? The tower is 605 feet (184.4 meters) high, which made it the tallest building west of the Mississippi River in 1961.
Visiting the Space Needle at Seattle Center
In the middle of summer in 2021, I found myself on another plane, crossing the United States to Sea-Tac airport. I was in town for the Fortloc city tour we had designed to offer a unique view of the Emerald City.
We touched down, and I climbed into the back of the waiting Suburban. As we drove toward the city, I realized why the Space Needle was so fitting for the Emerald City. Seattle wasn’t just a town about good coffee and sushi. This was a technology hub playing host to tech titans like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Aerospace companies like Blue Origin and Boeing also have large facilities here.
Renovations in 2018 elevated the appeal of the Space Needle. It now has two levels at the saucer-shaped top with 360-degree panoramic views. It also has the world's first rotating glass floor.
It was hot outside, but a cool breeze from the Pacific made the summer day feel like spring in Manhattan. A representative of the holding company ushered us into the Needle after a warm welcome. They had agreed to give us a private tour that isn’t accessible to the public.
We took the service elevator to the top of the tower with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Seattle skyline. However, our host informed us that the public elevators don't have the same unobstructed view which is rather unfortunate.
When the doors opened, I walked to the curved glass and looked out across the entire metropolis. The distant blue peaks of the Cascade Range were in full view. I remember feeling a sense of wonder at how much the human race had achieved in this small corner of America.
When I looked away, I noticed the floor for the first time. I almost fell over, because it’s not a traditional floor, not even remotely. It was crystal clear thick glass. Five inches thick to be exact.
The script mentioned the glass floor, but it didn't register until I was staring through it. Beneath my shoes, all I could see was the pavement below and part of the mechanical gear that rotates the saucer. It turns a complete circle every forty-five minutes.
Want some drinks or a light meal? Book a spot at the Loupe Lounge. Imagine enjoying unique Pacific Northwest cocktails and indulging in delectable seafood, cheese, and other snacks. All this while sitting on furniture placed on a glass platform 500 feet above the ground.
You won’t find a more intriguing way to enjoy refreshments with friends. Unfortunately, the Lounge wasn’t open during our visit. Perhaps, that’s a reason to come back another day to enjoy the full experience.
You should note that the Lounge isn't open year-round, so be sure to check on availability before planning your trip. If your visit doesn’t align with the Lounge dates, consider the Atmos Café or Wine Bar.
As I gazed across the Puget Sound, I understood why they built the city here. Even the name conjures up the history of the place.
Now, the city flourishes as a tech hub, aviation headquarters, coffee empire, and even a Hollywood icon (thanks to the classic Nora Ephron romantic comedy, Sleepless in Seattle).
After taking the elevator back down, I was happy to be on solid ground again. I walked back to the car that was waiting for me, parked next to the Howard S. Wright Fountain. As I stepped into the car, I took another look at the 'Clearly Awe-Inspiring' structure. That could’ve been the greatest view I’d ever seen of a major city.
Ten Quick Facts about the Space Needle
1. Height: 605 Feet.
2. Architect John “Jack” Graham, Jr. designed the top house to match the 'space age' theme of the 1962 World's Fair.
3. The builders completed the structure in December 1961.
4. The 1962 World's Fair organizers opened the tower on the first day of the fair.
5. Fernsehturm, the world's first television tower in Stuttgart inspired Edward E. Carlson to build the tower.
6. The structure can withstand an earthquake of up to 9.0 magnitude.
7. A 1999 April Fool’s joke by King-TV faked the collapse of the Needle. This caused an influx of 9-1-1 calls that overwhelmed the city’s emergency system.
8. A face-lift renovation (The Century Project) occurred in 2018.
9. The Landmark boasts the world's first revolving glass floor.
10. The 'saucer-top' has two levels of floor-to-ceiling glass viewing experiences.