The Space Needle at Christmas
The Space Needle is a tower in Seattle, Washington. It is a major landmark of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and the symbol of Seattle. Located in Seattle Center, it was built for the 1962 World's Fair, during which time nearly 20,000 people a day used the elevators — 2.3 million visitors in all for the World Fair. The Space Needle is 605 feet (184 m) high and 138 feet (42 m) wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. When it was completed it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) and earthquakes up to 9.5 magnitude (which would protect the structure against an earthquake as powerful as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake) and has 25 lightning rods on the roof to prevent lightning damage.
The Space Needle features an observation deck at 520 feet (160 m), the SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet (152 m), and a gift shop. From the top of the Needle, one can see not only the Downtown Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands. Photographs of the Seattle skyline often show the Space Needle in a prominent position, even appearing sometimes to tower above the rest of the city's skyscrapers. This occurs because the Space Needle sits roughly four-fifths of a mile (1.3 km) northwest of these skyscrapers, and photographers must capture the city with the Space Needle in the foreground in order to include both it and the rest of the tall buildings. (This angle offers the added bonus of affording a view of Mount Rainier in the background.) At 60 stories it is not remarkably tall, and it is not as close to the cluster of downtown skyscrapers as one might think judging only from the typical angle from which the skyline photographs are taken. Visitors can reach the top via elevators that travel at 10 mph (16 km/h). This trip takes 43 seconds and some tourists wait in hour-long lines in order to ascend to the top of the tower. It was designated a historic landmark on April 19, 1999. It is now owned by the privately held Space Needle Corporation.