Seattle Center, the site of the fair, is situated on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people; the 605-foot tall Space Needle is its dominant structure.
Seattle City Council Member Al Rochester was the instigator and primary cheerleader for a project “to mark the 50th anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909.” Its theme: “modern science, space exploration, and the progressive future.”
In 1957, Seattle voters passed a $7.5 million bond “for possible fairground development;” the legislature then matched the funds. (That’s $77.6 million in 2022 dollars.)
The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower started the countdown to the fair’s opening from Boeing Field, south of the city.
When it opened in 1962, the Space Needle was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It boasted the first revolving restaurant on the mainland and was privately funded. It sits on the only private property on the Seattle Center campus.
In honor of the 60th anniversary, the Space Needle’s roof has been painted its original color, Galaxy Gold.
Today the Needle features “the world’s first and only rotating glass floor” in the Loupe Lounge, which is located at the 500-foot level.