Space Needle
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Basic Information

The Space Needle is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Seattle, towering above Seattle Center. It stands out quite clearly on the Seattle skyline, looking like something from the Jetsons cartoon, sort of a Flying Saucer on a stick. It has been depicted in several movies and TV shows, a few video games, and they even made a lego set of it.


It was designed by Victor Steinbruek, and built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (aka the Century 21 Exposition). It was built by the Pentagram Corporation in less than a year. The last elevator car was installed the day before the fair. At the height of the fair nearly 20,000 people a day rode to the observation deck. Today, it remains a popular tourist site, and is often crowded. At the time of construction, it was the tallest building West of the Mississippi, a title it stole from the Smith Tower across town.

3 people have committed suicide by jumping off it, all in the 1970s. Several other people have climbed out between the safety wires, but been talked back by the police. Six people have parachuted off of it, a sport known as BASE jumping. The two who did so without permission were arrested for it.

On May 19, 2007, the 45 Millionth guest won a trip for two to Paris.

It jumped 300 feet

In June 1987, the Space Needle moved 312 feet (95 m) to the southwest. Officially, This movement only occurred on maps, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had begun a 10-year endeavor to re-map the world by satellite images. Major structures and landmarks such as the Space Needle were the first to be mapped out, and the mistake on old maps was discovered in the process. Stranger things have happened in gaming.

Dimensions and Construction

The Space Needle is 605 feet (184m) tall, the rough equivalent of 60 stories, though it only has a few floors.

The outdoors observation deck, along with a cafe and historical information, can be found at 520 feet (158m). The observation deck is circular, with a 138 foot (42m) diameter. The circumference, should you need to run a lap around it, is about 443 feet (135m). A short wall and a series of guide wires keep people from climbing to their dooms. Several telescopes mounted on the wall allow you a closer look at various parts of the city, and on clear days the Space Needle offers a commanding view of Seattle, it's suburbs, and Puget Sound.

The SkyCity restaurant is at 500 feet - it has a dress code, and slowly rotates so you get a view of the entire city.

The Skyline Banquet Facility level is at 100 feet, and can be rented for groups of 20 to 360 people.

Several large and powerful elevators can take you up. They travel 10mph, taking 43 seconds to get to observation deck. On windy days, the elevators are slowed to half speed. On the busiest days, the line to get in to the elevators can be an hour long. A ticket to go up costs around $15.

Legacy Lamp

Also known as the Skybeam, this 85 million candlepower lamp was added in 1999. It points straight up, and is lit about 12 nights per year. Was originally supposed to be 75 nights a year, but it causes too much light pollution.

Surviving Disasters

The foundation alone weighs almost 6,000 US tons (5,443 metric tonnes). It took 467 cement trucks a whole day to fill the hole. It's held to that base by 72 steel bolts, each of which is 30 feet long. The center of gravity is just 5 feet above the ground. It was built to withstand a 9.5 earthquake, or winds up to 200 mph (320 km/h). Ironically, this makes it one of the safest places to be (downtown, anyway) if the big one hit Seattle.

The Wheedle

The roof of the Space Needle is inhabitated by a big furry creature with a glowing nose. It hates the sound of whistling, so he makes it rain so that your lips are too wet to whistle. At least, that's what's claimed in a 1974 children's book written by Steven Cosgrove.

There's a Wheedle on the Needle
I know just what you're thinking
But if you look up late at night
You'll see his red nose blinking.


Game and Story Use

  • Any game set in or passing through Seattle should feature this iconic landmark.
    • It's a great place for a neutral meeting or drop, a place where exit is difficult, crowds are present, and no one is likely to try anything.
    • Despite that, it's also a great spot for a fight scene, which is why I included the circumference, fall distances, notes on how sturdy it is, etc.
  • In a very strange game set in 1987, the Space Needle might actually move 300 feet. Ridiculous reasons run rampant:
    • The Wheedle moved it. If he can control the weather, who knows what else he can do.
    • A lusty UFO-shaped monster or alien mistook the top of observation deck for a potential mate.
    • Turns out the top really is a captured flying saucer, and it tried to take off. 6,000 tons of foundation kept it from escaping.
    • The same magic that makes the Pike Market such a maze also moved the Needle.
  • Not only will the Space Needle survive most short-term disasters, but the Space Needle is one of the things likely to be left standing After The End.
    • The Space Needle might be one of few surviving landmarks to give you your Planet of the Apes Ending or otherwise serve as a reminder of man's lost dominance over nature.
    • Since the power would be gone, and it's a heck of a climb, it's not likely to see use by humans. it'll probably have numerous bird nests, though.
    • See also Post Apocalyptic Decay.
  • Good nest for supernatural creatures, especially those that can fly.
    • The Wheedle may have once been a story, but all those little kids made it real. See Mythago.
    • In my Scion RPG campaign, I had a Benu (and Egyptian Phoenix) nest on the roof of the needle (mistaken sightings leading to the Wheedle idea), until the Titans sent a covey of Harpies to kill it. Stinky harpy nests are bad for tourism, so the PCs took the elevator up, climbed out on the railing, and defeated the man-eating harpies. Then they enabled the Benu's reincarnation.
      • Harpies atop the space needle is nasty, by the way, they grabbed PCs and flung them to what should have been their deaths. (But this is Scion we're talking about. The PCs could fly, or just soak the damage from Terminal Velocity.
  • Due to proximity, whatever craziness happens at the Space Needle will be felt at Seattle Center.
  • PCs fleeing a Zombie Apocalypse might use the Space Needle as a fall-back point or base of operations. It's sturdy, access can be controlled, the restaurants should have at least a few days worth of food, and the height allows for sniping. Again, should the power fail (and it will if society collapses), you've got a pretty dreadful climb to make.
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