The Space Needle: A 21st Century View

How many times have you gauged your location or some necessary distance by that 605 foot spinning top of a landmark? Long after March 1962, the centerpiece of Seattle Center has evolved just as the campus it towers over continues to morph and change with the ever-growing city surrounding it.

The future is here! Built in record time, the Space Needle went from being a doodle of an idea, on a napkin, to an iconic landmark. Once the largest structure west of the Mississippi, the Space Needle is now dwarfed by buildings that soar over the 605 foot tower.

Imagine Edward E. “Eddie” Carlson in 1959, eyeing Germany’s Stuttgart Tower. There, in the world’s first television tower, 217 meters above the ground, Carlson observes the crowds. Visitors take in 360 degree views, eat, drink and chat while taking “let’s remember this” photos, shop and marvel at their unique experience. How splendid to have such an attraction for the 1962 World’s Fair: Century 21 Exposition — The Age of Space!

Get spacey! There’s a little world of books, music, film, websites and audio books about the Space Needle. Knute Berger’s book, The Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle gives historical breadth to the monument. Get into the groove with Historylink’s essay Century 21 Exposition (1962) Theme Songs and Souvenir Records.  Do the Monorail Twist then, hit the road with Riding Seattle’s Space Needle by checking out NPR’s Road Trip Collection.

Take in the fair by checking out books such as The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy or Century 21 City: Seattle’s Fifty Year Journey from World’s Fair to World’s Stage.

Depending on the neighborhood, Seattle in the 21st century is familiar, yet a very different city from 1962. The Official Guide to the Pacific Northwest and Century 21 Exposition states that ‘the Century 21’s Exposition’s “Man in Space” theme unfolds a glittering projection of life in the year 2000, against a backdrop of man’s accomplishments today in the space age.’ The fair was divided into five Worlds: the World of Science, the World of Century 21, World of Commerce and Industry, World of Art and the World of Entertainment.

With the resource list The Space Needle: A 21st Century View as your tour guide travel to the center of Seattle Center’s universe, where the real and the imagined take center stage.  Seattle Center continues to be a point of reference offering a dizzying array of programs and events heralded by the themes of the five Worlds. It has become, truly, the center of the city hosting everything from protests to parades.

Join us for two evenings of memories, insights and revelations about the Space Needle featuring Knute Berger, author and B.J. Bullert producer of two short films about the Space Needle. On Tuesday, October 15, we are hosting Space Needle Redux: Knute Berger and B.J. Bullert Eye the Needle.  On Tuesday, October 22, the film, Space Needle: A Hidden History reveals a little known history for the needle’s origins.

Come on up! See for yourself! Discover the history of the Space Needle through artifacts, memorabilia and interactive displays. Check out the exhibit The Space Needle: A 21st Century View in the Level 8 Gallery at The Central Library from October 7-27, 2019.

~ posted by Chris

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