Over the past couple of years, I’ve made numerous visits to Seattle Center, mainly to participate in planning meetings for The Next Fifty, the golden anniversary commemoration of the 1962 World’s Fair, which is now in full swing. My treks to the former fairgrounds have often occurred at times of day and year when few others are around. As a result, I have experienced the spacious nature of the campus, and have marveled at how much of the Fair’s major infrastructure is still intact. Many of its iconic sites are landmarked, including the Monorail, Pacific Science Center, Horiuchi Mural, Kobe Bell, Armory/Center House, and the soaring Space Needle.
As a longtime resident of this area, I have attended many major events at Seattle Center when crowds defined the space. But my recent solo walks, and my growing knowledge of the Century 21 Exposition, have engendered a new fondness for this place as an urban park steeped in history, yet full of life.
Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to bring back crowd-pleasing activities reminiscent of the Fair. When the sun comes out on a spring day, school kids fresh from tours of Pacific Science Center cavort in the International Fountain, which still shoots water plumes 100 feet into the air. Other times, major festivals, like Folklife and Bumbershoot, recall the Fair’s heyday when throngs fill the grounds.
Year-round venues, such as Seattle Rep, Pacific Science Center, EMP Museum and Seattle Opera, continually draw respectable numbers. But the granddaddy of them all for consistent visitation is the Space Needle. From its observation deck on a cloudless day, the view is unsurpassed, with stunning views of downtown skyscrapers, the waterfront, Elliott Bay, the Olympics, and the sometime elusive, Mount Rainier.
Seattle Center is featured in the Industry section of 4Culture’s Destination Heritage for being emblematic of this region’s forward thinking in the world of applied technology. Discover other sites at www.destinationheritage.org.
Seattle Center © 2011, photo by 4Culture staff