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The Forgotten Space Needle: PHOTO ESSAY

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 14, 2016
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We’ve all memorized the Space Needle, and to be honest, it doesn’t really excite me that much anymore (I’m more a fan of Mt. Rainier and views of the Puget Sound). But George Gulacsik’s recently-released photos of the Needle’s construction made me fall in love all over again.

He took 2,436 photos of the year-long construction, hired by the Space Needle’s architect to record the process. But for decades, no one saw them.

“George may have been the only one to see them since he took them,” said Dave Mandapat, director of public relations for Space Needle LLC.

This giant collection was just recently digitized and released online, courtesy of the Seattle Public Library. 

It’s fascinating to browse through these photos of a time with a small Seattle and even smaller safety regulations, but if you don’t want to wade through the whole collection, I collected my favorites here.


Workers building the foundation for the Space Needle. May 1961

Developing the foundation of the Space Needle. It was designed to withstand extreme winds and severe earthquakes.

Workers guide a leg of the Space Needle into place. June 30, 1961

The Space Needle rising upward, with a much shorter skyline in the background than we see today.

A welder working atop the Space Needle.

The first section of the Space Needle’s fins.

A rare color photo showing workers at the base of the Space Needle’s torch. November 1961

The Space Needle nearing completion, as seen from the base. Notice the undeveloped area around the Space Needle. Late November, 1961

A worker on the restaurant level of the Space Needle, with downtown Seattle visible in the background. Early December 1961

The completed Space Needle in 1962, 605 feet tall. It took less than a year to build the Space Needle from start to finish.

Photos: George Gulacsik/Seattle Public Library