10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Space Needle
Against the backdrop of the Seattle skyline, stands a unique towering monument that’s recognizable around the world — the Space Needle. More than a place from which to appreciate the beauty of the city, this marvel of architectural design has a few interesting stories to tell.
Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Seattle’s beloved Space Needle.
And if you’re thinking about visiting the Space Needle, book your stay at a hotel near the city’s center.
1. The Space Needle represents man’s aspirations for space. The structure was built for the 1962 World’s Fair with the theme ‘The Age of Space.’ The original design was inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany.
2. The Space Needle was almost a balloon. In its original design, Edward E. Carlson, the businessman who started plans for the tower in 1959, had a different design resembling a balloon tethered to the ground. John Graham, the architect commissioned for the project, introduced the flying saucer design that would eventually make it to life.
3. The Space Needle’s center of gravity is just five feet above ground. Since its foundation is buried about 30 feet (ca. 9 m) below ground, and the 605 feet (0.18 km) needle is connected to the bottom of the structure, the center of gravity stayed close to the ground.
4. A torch burned on top of the Space Needle in the beginning. To make for a more dramatic reveal in 1962, the tower had a massive flame. It burned for the duration of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. After the Fair’s conclusion, the fire was turned off. It had burned through enough natural gas to heat 125 homes.
5. The Space Needle used to have the largest electronic Carillon in the world. When it opened in 1962, the tower had a 538-bell carillon which would play multiple times daily. It was called Carillon Americana. The tower’s speakers at 200 feet broadcast sounds audible to people over 10 miles away. Carillon Americana’s music was even included in the 1962 album, Bells on High-Fi. In 1964, a 732-bell carillon in New York became the largest in the world.
6. Two people have parachuted illegally from the Space Needle. In 1975, two BASE jumpers decided to jump off of the tower. Both of them landed safely. After 1996, the city allowed other jumpers from the 520-feet observational deck.
7. It took 46 years before the Space Needle was cleaned. In May 2008, the structure was cleaned for the first time under the supervision of Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG. They used 2900 pounds per square inch of pressure and a temperature of 194 degrees Farenheit for the water to conduct the scrubbing.
8. Someone tried to buy the Space Needle. In 1978, businessmen from nearby city Fife, offered the tower’s owners one million dollars for it. The amount was not even a quarter of the cost to build the Space Needle. Needless to say, the offer was declined.
9. An architect claims to have more involvement in the construction of the Space Needle. Victor Steinbrueck was hired by John Graham’s architectural firm for the project but was later omitted from acclaim when the landmark was unveiled. Although records do show Steinbrueck’s involvement, they do not contain details of his contribution. Steinbrueck wrote a memoir, My Space Needle Story, in December 1961.
10. People thought the Space Needle had fallen after a prank. On April Fool’s Day in 1989, comedy show Almost Live! reported that the tower had fallen. They also aired pictures of the landmark in ruins. The city received over 700 concerned calls. A representative from the NBC network apologized for the episode the next day.
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