The ideal kickoff to your visit to Seattle, take a quick 43-second blast upward to the 520-foot high Observation Deck of the iconic Space Needle for a jaw-dropping 360-degree view of the glistening Emerald City.
From the Observation Deck, check out the downtown Seattle skyline while taking in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and waterways. Listen to the distant hum of the bustling city while watching ferries and boats as they cruise through Elliott Bay and outward to surrounding islands. Picturesque Mount Rainier stands tall above the city while the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and Mount Baker peak on the horizon.
Whether it’s the free telescopes, interactive screens and controllable cameras, the SkyCafe and Wine Bar, or absorbing the infamous history of the Needle – from Elvis to US Presidents, there’s a lot to be enjoyed. This summer the Space Needle is rolling out new digital enhancements that are sure to be out of this world! Picture yourself with a life-size Needle. Be floored by a “see through” view over Seattle. Teleport into a Seattle Sounders FC game huddle, a tank at the Seattle Aquarium, or onto a flying fish at the Pike Place Market. With a new interactive digital wall and futuristic augmented reality and teleporting capabilities, the Needle is aiming to put each guest at the center of an elevated 360-degree adventure.
This highly recognizable landmark of the Pacific Northwest and towering symbol of Seattle was once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. Built in the Seattle Center to be the centerpiece and inspiration for the 1962 World’s Fair, nearly 20,000 people a day used its elevators to witness the city from high above and in awe of its natural and manmade beauty.
This impressive 605-foot structure is built to withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour and earthquakes of up to 9.1 in magnitude, which is as strong as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake. There are also 25 lightning rods (24 actual rods plus the tower) on the roof of the Space Needle to endure lightning strikes.
In addition to the must-see Observation Deck, be sure to make a stop at the SpaceBase gift shop, and experience locally inspired fine dining at the famous rotating SkyCity at the Needle restaurant.
“It’s the perfect perch in the sky to see and experience the city.”
Space Needle Fun Facts
• The aircraft-warning beacon at the top of the Space Needle is at 605 feet.
• Bottom of the foundation is 30 feet below ground.
• There are 848 steps from the bottom of the basement to the top of the Observation Deck.
• During the construction of the Space Needle, it took 467 cement trucks less than 12 hours to fill the foundation hole that as 30 feet deep and 120 feet across. This was the largest continuous concrete pour ever attempted in the West.
• The foundation weighs 5,850 tons and there is 250 tons of reinforcing steel alone in the foundation. The Needle structure weighs 3,700 tons.
• The center of gravity for the Space Needle is 5-feet above the ground.
• The Space Needle is fastened to its foundation with 72 bolts, each 30 feet in length.
• The Space Needle sways approximately 1 inch for every 10 mph of wind.
• On a hot day the Space Needle expands about one inch.
• Diameter of the halo is 138 feet.
• The entire Space Needle saucer does not rotate, only a 14-foot ring next to the windows rotates on the SkyCity restaurant level.
• The restaurant turntable revolves on a track and wheel system that weighs roughly 125 tons, borrowed from railroad technology. All it takes to make the turntable revolve is a (1•) horsepower motor.
• The original nickname of the Space Needle was “The Space Cage.” The original name of the restaurant was “Eye of the Needle.”
• From the time of its construction, the Space Needle has always had a light atop the structure. The most recent version is the Legacy Light, first illuminated on New Year’s Eve 1999/2000.
• Named an official City of Seattle Landmark on April 21, 1999 by the City’s Landmarks Preservation Board.
Interview with Karen Olsen – Vice President of Marketing
SkyCity at the Needle Restaurant – Culinary Creations as Unique and Unforgettable as the View
The SkyCity at the Needle Restaurant is a legend in itself. Holding its title as the world’s oldest revolving restaurant, the eatery has gone through many changes throughout the years.
Enter Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield – a Seattle native with a passion for creating food that is not only visually pleasing but encompasses the diverse bounty of food native to the Pacific Northwest. Under the guidance of Chef Maxfield, the restaurant has become just as popular as the breathtaking views from the top of the tower, and for good reason. The restaurant boasts a seasonal menu that is full of amazing, locally sourced food such as wild mushrooms, hazelnuts, salmon, tuna, and sea salt (yes, even their salt is produced in the Pacific Northwest).
“We’re passionate about what we do and we are passionate about the Northwest.”
It is this commitment to green, sustainable and responsible sourcing that has put the restaurant on the map, but it is the culinary creations that the restaurant team produces that garners such well-deserved attention.
From the baby spinach salad, topped with goat cheese fritter, hazelnuts and lamb bacon (yes, lamb bacon!) to the RR Ranch Beef Short Ribs marinated and braised with veal stock, coffee and chocolate, everything is thoughtfully prepared and reflects the wide variety of foods available to this port city. And, if you thought things could not get more local, Chef Maxfield himself forages the surrounding areas for all of the restaurant’s wild mushroom needs.
Of course, nothing pairs better with a delicious meal than a breathtaking view – and this restaurant has plenty. Situated on a rotating platform, diners are treated to an amazing 360-degree view of Seattle and the surrounding mountain ranges. You might start your dinner with a delightful salad and fantastic views of the Puget Sound and finish off your main course with breathtaking views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges. If that were not enough – every visitor to the restaurant is rewarded with a free trip up to the Observation Deck, just in case you missed something!
All of the hard work and dedication of the entire restaurant team has definitely paid off in spades. When the James Beard House, the coveted culinary heritage foundation, came calling for the restaurant to present a dinner, Chef Maxfield and his team excitedly answered YES!!! In October 2013 some of their most popular and unique dishes, including the legendary braised short ribs, delighted the taste buds of the culinary industry’s elite, and Chef Maxfield could not be prouder of his accomplishments. His philosophy is as simple and refreshing as the dishes – Always keep striving to new heights.
So, the next time you are in Seattle, a stop at the SkyCity restaurant is a must. Boasting 1,200 – 1,500 guests per day during peak season, reservations are definitely helpful.
While waiting for your meal and enjoying the view, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to interact with your fellow diners. In what has become a SkyCity tradition, patrons will write questions on cards and place them on the window ledge, allowing the question to travel all the way around as other tables pick up the cards, answer the questions and place it back on the ledge. There is no better way to end a perfect meal than to anxiously await your card’s return and enjoy the different responses.
SkyCity at the Needle Restaurant
400 Broad Street, 52nd Floor
Seattle, Washington 98109
By: Kelly Taggart
Photos: Allen Carrasco and Space Needle LLC