Seattle’s Space Needle

Originally built for the 1962 World's Fair, the now iconic Space Needle marks its 50th anniversary on April 21, 2012.

This overview of Seattle and the newly constructed Space Needle was taken in April 1962. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair and is the most popular tourist attraction in Seattle.

The Space Needle under construction on Aug. 14, 1961.

The construction area for the Space Needle in May 1961. The Howard Wright Construction Company broke ground at the Space Needle site on April 17, 1961. The result of a design collaboration among businessman Edward E. Carlson, architect John Graham and University of Washington architecture professor Victor Steinbrueck, the Space Needle was built for the 1962 Century 21 Exposition (World's Fair) in Seattle.

Ironworkers during construction of observation deck level of Space Needle, 1961. This photograph depicts two steelworkers from the Pacific Car and Foundry Company at around the 515 feet level, standing on one of the brackets which will support the Space Needle's observation deck. Remarkably, no men were injured during the often precarious work involved in the construction of the Space Needle.

This photo, taken hundreds of feet in the air on Dec. 19, 1961, shows a dizzying view down the central shaft of the Space Needle.

An ironworker throws a line to a buddy during the installation of the upper levels of the Space Needle during construction in 1961. The steelworkers worked at great heights assembling the sections.

The restaurant on top of the Space Needle (called the Eye of the Needle), sat on a giant, doughnut-shaped track and turntable. Shown here is a test run conducted in 1961 by the manufacturer, Western Gear Corporation, in their Everett parking lot. A makeshift platform with table and chairs was placed on the 94.5-foot-diameter ring, and a waitress/model served coffee to the architect, designer, and other dignitaries. With its one-horsepower motor, the turntable made one complete rotation in an hour.

The restaurant atop the Space Needle around the time it opened. Photo taken in April 1962.

The Space Needle was built in less than one year for $4.5 million. The top of the Needle is 605 feet high, with the main observation deck at 520 feet.

The Space Needle appears to stand without legs in the morning fog Sept. 3, 1995. The fog later lifted, giving the city another warm summer day.

Barry Sweet / AP

Lightning strikes west of the Space Needle on Aug. 4, 1999, during a thunderstorm that rolled through the Puget Sound area.

Patrick Hagerty / EASTSIDE JOURNAL

The Space Needle is seen at dusk with Mount Rainier in the background May 30, 2000, in Seattle.

Dan Callister / Getty Images North America

A U.S. flag flies at half-staff on the roof of the Space Needle on Sept. 11, 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Brian Morningstar, left, and Robert Jaeger finish checking boxes of fireworks atop the Space Needle on Dec. 30, 2003. Crews from the Space Needle and Pyro Spectaculars installed several thousand pyrotechnic shots to be fired in a choreographed event for the annual show at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The full moon turns red and orange above the Space Needle during a total lunar eclipse.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The Blue Angels fly in formation over the Space Needle on Aug. 5, 2005.

© Reuters Photographer / Reuters / X00033

Fireworks erupt from the Space Needle in Seattle on Jan. 1, 2008, to start the new year.

Jjim Bryant / AP

Matt Henry, of Kaercher GmbH & Co. KG, uses heated, high-pressure water to clean the surface of the Space Needle on May 15, 2008.

Andy Rogers / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Space Needle is viewed through water droplets on glass Jan. 26, 2009.

Mike Urban / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Space Needle, Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle on Nov. 19, 2009.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The Space Needle is seen among tulips on March 30, 2010. Residents of the Pacific Northwest know spring is here when the daffodils and tulips begin showing their brilliant colors.

Joshua Trujillo /

A child sledding starts downhill after a push, Nov. 23, 2010, in Seattle's Gasworks Park, with the Space Needle in the background.

Elaine Thompson / AP

From left, Space Needle board member Stuart Rolfe, Chairman of the Space Needle Corporation Jeff Wright and his daughter, Mauren Wright, who is the granddaughter of Space Needle builder Howard S. Wright, are tethered with safety gear while painting the roof of the Space Needle "Galaxy Gold" on April 17. 2012. The two generations of 1962 World's Fair families painted the roof of the Space Needle in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair.

Anthony Bolante / X00033