Space Needle celebrates 55th birthday

Sunday, April 23, 2017

 Space Needle #73106  1962
Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives
The Space Needle celebrated its 55th birthday on Saturday. It was originally painted an industrial orange color.

It was the symbol of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

Fun facts about the Space Needle

"The Space Needle sways approximately 1 inch for every 10 mph of wind. It was built to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour, doubling the 1962 building code requirements.

"When winds around the Needle reach high speeds, 35 mph or higher, the elevators are designed to reduce their traveling speed to 5 mph for safety reasons. During the 1993 Inaugural Day storm, wind gusts reached 90 mph and the top house was closed for an hour and a half."

During the 1960s there was a tiny radio broadcasting booth on the very top of the Needle. Local radio stations took turns broadcasting.

Local radio personality Frosty Fowler was broadcasting on April 29, 1965 when from his vantage atop the Needle he saw the ground start to roll toward him like an ocean swell. He had just enough time to say "Hold on Folks!" before the earthquake hit the needle, whipping it back and forth.

In other local history, this is what the freeway looked like south of downtown Seattle at about the same time.

Photo courtesy WSDOT

Note downtown where Smith Town and the Space Needle loom large. It wasn't until 1969 that the 50 story Safeco Plaza (then the SeaFirst Bank Building) loomed over downtown Seattle. The unimaginative rectangular block of a building was referred to as "the box the Space Needle came in."



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