In August, 1961 a new structure began to emerge on the Seattle skyline. Preparation for the erection of the Space Needle began earlier in the year with the purchase of a small 120×120 foot lot between the southern end of Lake Union and Puget Sound. In May a 30-foot deep hole spanning the entire lot was dug, laced with steel, and filled (in one day!) with 467 truckloads of concrete. Massive footings were attached to the foundation and by August a truncated central core (elevator shaft) had risen to a height of about 100 feet.
The foundation weighs 5850 tons, almost the same as the above-ground structure, placing the Needle’s center of gravity just 5 feet above ground level. The footings seen in the photo on the left were bolted to the foundation with 72 thirty foot long bolts.
By November, the Needle had reached its full height of 605 feet making it (at the time) the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. Work then began on the saucer-shaped rotating dome that is so perfectly balanced it requires only a 1.5 hp electric motor to turn it.
Just in time for the opening of the 1962 World’s Fair, construction was completed on the Space Needle and the core was painted “Orbital Olive”, the legs “Astronaut White”, the saucer “ Re-entry Red”, and the roof “Galaxy Gold”.