Food & Culture

Space Needle Trivia!

Five things you didn’t know about Seattle’s Space Age icon.

By Seattle Magazine Staff January 12, 2012


This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Seattle Magazine.

The Space Needle Is Well Rooted (see above photo)

The Space Needle has a 30-foot-deep foundation made with 2,800 yards of concrete and 250 tons of reinforcing steel. The above-ground portion of the Needle weighs an impressive 3,700 tons, but the foundation is even mightier, weighing in at 5,850 tons. Thanks to this massive hidden base, the Needle’s center of gravity is 5 feet above the ground.

The Space Needle Carried a Torch

During the fair, the Space Needle had a 40-foot-tall natural-gas-powered “torch” burning on the mast at the top. Promotional materials at the time claimed the flame used as much gas as 125 homes. The gas plumbing for the torch was removed after the fair and is unlikely to return anytime soon.

The Space Needle Scared The Beatles

Asked at a Seattle Center press conference in August 1964 if the Beatles had seen the Space Needle, cute Beatle Paul McCartney said he had taken a look, but that he hadn’t gone up. Troublemaking Beatle John Lennon said, “I don’t like heights.” Quiet Beatle George Harrison said, “It looks better from the ground.” Ringo had no comment.

The Space Needle Inspired The Jetsons

Not many structures can claim to be the inspiration for the architecture in an iconic animated cartoon, but the Space Needle most certainly can. Iwao Takamoto, a layout and design artist for The Jetsons told The New York Times in 2005 that the Space Needle “inspired the ‘skypad’ apartment buildings [in the cartoon], whose stilts grew or shrunk depending on the smog.”

Credit: UW Special Collections (SEA2378)

The Space Nest

Original plans called for a stork’s nest (with resident storks) to be installed at the top of the Needle. That was abandoned when someone realized storks only live in warm climates, so no matter how hip a nest they had, they weren’t likely to stick around in Seattle.


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