Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Great Wheel, Top Of The World And Underground Adventures

Monday September 17th 2012

Mike and I don't normally spend a lot of time in larger cities but Seattle and New York have been an exception.  We love them both, in fact we are planning another trip to New York in the future.  Seattle was wonderful, it really did not seem like a large city with all the different neighborhoods.  So many things to see and do.  

We started at the Space Needle, built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair, during which time nearly 20,000 people a day used the elevators, with over 2.3 million visitors in all for the World Fair. The Space Needle is 605 feet high at its highest point and 138 feet wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. When it was completed it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude. The tower also has 25 lightning rods on its roof to prevent lightning damage.

The Space Needle features an observation deck at 520 feet, and the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet. The restaurant rotates 360 degrees and a full rotation takes 47 minutes.  From the top of the Needle, you can see not only the Downtown Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade Mountain, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay.


Visitors can reach the top of the Space Needle by elevators that travel at 10 miles per hour. The trip takes 41 seconds, and sometimes tourists can wait in hour-long lines in order to get to the top of the tower. On windy days, the elevators are slowed down to a speed of 5 miles per hour. The Space Needle was designated a historic landmark.


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The Space Needle was painted Galaxy Gold, in 2012 for it’s 50th anniversary.


We spent a couple of hours at the space needle having lunch and enjoying the view from the top. 

Next to the Space Needle is Chihuly Garden and Glass.  The exhibition showcases the work of Washington native Dale Chihuly.  We did not go into the exhibit, but just admired some of the glass work that is featured in the gardens outside.

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Finished with the needle and glass garden, got on the monorail for a ride downtown, the monorail stops only blocks from Pikes Place Market.


We sat in the front seat for the view and what a view it was. 


I think it was $2.00 for a round trip if your 65 or older.


Getting off the monorail we walked the couple of blocks to Pike Place Market, looked around for a bit then headed to the giant Ferris wheel for a ride.  The walked to the harbor, most of it down hill. It was such a lovely day we could have walked for ever.  Good thing it was a nice day we had to wait in line for almost an hour for tickets.



The Great Wheel

Diameter: 175 feet
Height: 200 feet
Number of gondolas: 42

The wheel’s gondolas are enclosed and have heating and air conditioning so that riders can enjoy this ride all year round. The views are spectacular from all sides—the Puget Sound, Seattle skyline, and mountains was all visible today. At their farthest point, the gondolas are 40 feet out over the water. The gondolas have glass-bottomed floors, too, which makes dangling out over the Puget Sound a little more exciting.

At approximately 200 feet high, the Seattle Ferris wheel is quite a bit shorter than some of the tallest Ferris wheels in the world. As of mid-2012, the tallest are: Singapore Flyer at 541 feet, Star of Nanchang at 525 feet, London Eye at 443 feet, Suzhou Ferris Wheel at 394 feet, and The Southern Star at 394 feet.


A nice view of the Space Needle and the Football and baseball stadium. 


More views of the Seattle area from the wheel. 

One more thing on our list for the day, Pioneer Square and the underground tour.  Walked a couple more miles to tiny Waterfall park.  Pioneer Square is the oldest neighborhood in the Seattle area with Victorian-era buildings huge authentic totem poles and Smith Tower at one time the tallest building outside of New York.


The Totem Pole and the Pioneer Building where we started the tour.

The tour begins inside Doc Maynard's Public House a restored 1890s saloon. 



At one time the sidewalks were covered with sections of clear glass blocks to light the inside of the underground stores.  Most of the glass has been covered over with cement and what was not covered has turned amethyst in color. 


We had a great guide for our tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets.  As we roamed the passages the once were the main roadways and first floor store fronts our guide had stories of the history of the area.


Flowers in the alleys, and cow chip cookies.


After all our touring we had to stop for some libation, a nice glass of wine was in order before starting back.  After our wine we walked to the downtown bus tunnel and rode the underground bus back to the monorail, jumped  on the monorail and headed to Seattle Center where the car is parked.


What a day, what a town, what fun we had living our dream.

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