The Space Needle’s first 50 years have been filled with countless incredible events. Here are some standout memories:

Needle construction begins one year before World’s Fair opens.

Construction crews broke ground on the Space Needle on April 17, just one year and four days before the opening of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, called “Century 21.” It was a remarkable feat to complete this one-of-a-kind, 605-foot tower in such a short amount of time. And there were plenty of challenges along the way.    [View]


In June of 2000, the Space Needle felt shiny and new after a $20 million revitalization. The year–long effort included a host of projects: the Pavilion Level and SpaceBase retail store were built; the Needle’s signature revolving restaurant was redesigned and renamed SkyCity; the Observation Deck enjoyed an overhaul; exterior lighting was added; the Needle was repainted; and the Legacy Light (SkyBeam) was installed. Even the Space Needle’s logo got a great new look. Whew!


The Space Needle underwent some great changes in the early ‘80s. The revolving restaurant got a facelift, the top house was renovated, and most noticeably, the 100-foot “SkyLine Level” was added. Housing banquet facilities, the SkyLine Level was part of the original Space Needle design but wasn’t built until now.

The total tab for building and renovation was $5 million — about what it cost to build the Space Needle in the first place.


Seattle rang in 1992 with the first-ever New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration to be launched from the Space Needle — an event that’s become a favorite annual tradition in the Pacific Northwest. A symbol that’s both futuristic and optimistic, the Needle is the perfect place to be at midnight. The event has “caught the imagination of locals and people outside of Seattle, and has helped us become the Times Square of the West,” according to the Space Needle’s Jeffrey Wright.


The Space Needle, originally named “The Space Cage” opened just in time to kick off the Seattle World’s Fair which ran from April 21-October 21. (The last elevator arrived the day before the fair opened!) Tickets were $1 for adults and 75 cents for children. 2.3 million people rode up to the Space Needle’s Observation Deck during the fair. And interestingly enough, the restaurant also opened with a different name, which offered a hint of the Needle’s name to come: “Eye of the Needle.”

Fame + Factoids

Brushes with fame:

All kinds of famous folks have enjoyed the Space Needle, including entertainers like Elvis Presley, Walt Disney, John Travolta, Mike Myers and Bono; royalty such as Prince Philip of Great Britain and the Shah and Empress of Iran; presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter; and astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. In fact, martial arts legend Bruce Lee brought his future wife Linda Emery to the Space Needle for their first date on October 25, 1963. They were married the following August.

The Needle in numbers:
605 feet tall
Original cost: $4.5 million
Remodel cost in 2000: $21 million
Visited by 1.2 million people a year
Repainted 4 times, using 8,000 gallons
On hot days, the Needle expands about 1 inch

© Space Needle LLC All Rights Reserved | Sign In