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The Space Needle is the most recognizable landmark in the Pacific Northwest, and is the symbol of Seattle, Washington.
Built in 1962, the Space Needle served as the focal point of that year's World's Fair, during which it hosted 2.3 million visitors.
The tower is 605 feet high and 138 feet wide at its widest point, and weighs 9,550 tons. Located on the Seattle Center grounds, the Space Needle was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River at the time it was built.
The Space Needle is built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph, earthquakes up to 9.1 magnitude, and features 25 lightning rods on the roof to withstand lightning strikes.
It boasts an observation deck at 520 feet above ground level, which provides outstanding views of the downtown Seattle skyline, the Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Elliot Bay, and the San Juan Islands. The Space Needle also features a restaurant and gift shop.
The design of the Space Needle was finalized by blending the ideas proposed by Edward Carlson and John Graham. Carlson, president of Western International Hotels at the time, was inspired during a visit to the Stuttgart Tower of Germany. He sketched a giant balloon tethered to the ground. Graham, a renowned architect who had recently won praise for designing the world's first shopping mall, the Northgate Mall in Seattle, proposed the concept of a flying saucer instead of the balloon. A final compromise was reached just 18 months before the fair opened.
Since the Space Needle was not financed by the city, land had to be purchased that lay within the fairgrounds. A 120-by-120-foot plot was found and sold to investors for $75,000.
When construction began, only one year was left until the World's Fair opening. The construction team worked around the clock, and the Space Needle was completed just in time, on April 21, 1962.
The concrete base of the needle weighs the same as the above-ground structure making the Space Needle's center of gravity five feet above ground level.
The top dome, which houses the top five levels of the structure, including the restaurants and observation deck, was perfectly balanced so that the restaurant can be rotated with the help of one tiny electric motor putting out just one horsepower (now 1.5 hp).
On New Year's Eve, 1999, a powerful beam of light, known as the Legacy Light or Skybeam, was unveiled for the first time. Skybeam boasts intensely bright lamps, about 85 million candle power, that glitter skyward from the top of the Space Needle. The lamps are lit to honor national holidays and special occasions in Seattle.
In 2000, the Space Needle underwent renovations that cost nearly five times the original price tag of $4.5 million.
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