Seattle Space Needle
(Posted August 20, 2000, Herbert E. Lindberg)

Our journey began early Friday morning, July 14th, when we were picked up at home by Anthony's limousine service for our ride to Sacramento Airport to board a flight to Seattle. The flight was smooth and uneventful (a welcome sign, given all the publicity concerning Alaska Airline airplane difficulties) and got us to the Seattle-Tacoma Airport three hours before the Tauck Tour's official beginning at 2:00 p.m. As the designated time approached we met some of the others on the tour and our Director, Jeff Walker. We all eventually boarded a motor coach to take us to the Westin Hotel in Seattle.

On the way Jeff had the coach drive west over the Duwamish Waterway to the Alki peninsula, from which we had beautiful views of the Seattle skyline. As best I can reconstruct, the coach stopped on Harbor Avenue so we could take pictures. This is the street on the right side of the arrow-shaped Alki peninsula on the lower left of the map. Proceding northeast across Puget Sound from the tip of the peninsula you will see the Space Needle north of downtown Seattle. The Weston Hotel is just a few block southeast of the Space Needle.

Map of Seattle showing Alki peninsula and location of Space Needle

Below is a zoomed north-east-looking picture of the Seattle skyline and the Space Needle, where we were to have breakfast the next morning. The tall building in almost the precise center of the picture is the Westin Hotel, where we spent the evening.

Space Needle in Seattle skyline, taken from the Alki Peninsula

We arrived at the hotel soon enough to enjoy a brief walk to the Seattle open market on 1st Avenue, followed by a half-hour rest in the "cloud nine" bed in our spacious room overlooking downtown Seattle from high above. At 5:30 we all met at Roy's Balcony in the hotel for wine, snacks and introductions. After a fine diner at the hotel restaurant Mary and I relaxed with a couple of drinks in the lobby bar and then crashed into bed.

The group photo was taken in front of the hotel first thing in the morning, and then we hopped back into our motor coach (Jeff's words for bus) to drive to the Space Needle for breakfast. Again, the weather was crystal clear and the views breathtaking. I snapped the picture below showing the inside of the revolving restaurant near the top of the needle and a bit of the view. Inside the restaurant you can see Mary Clark and the back of Peter Clark's head opposite her.

Breakfast at the Space Needle

The picture below is just a representative example of the Seattle skyline as the restaurant revolved, this one with Mount Rainier in the distance. The next picture zooms in for a better view of the mountain. You don't see this every day in Seattle weather!

Sample view of downtown Seattle from the Space Needle
Mount Rainier beyond Seattle skyline

At the base of the Space Needle is the Frank Gehry Rock Temple. I remember reading about it in Time Magazine, in an article about its architect Frank Gehry. As you probably know, he's designed a series of really grotesque buildings that are turning out to be must-have attractions for any city of note. This Seattle museum is no exception. The article in Time tells the story that Gehry inspired himself for the building's form by taking two guitars and smashing them into a heap. If you look closely at the picture below you can imagine the smashed guitars. The roller-coaster-like things sticking up near the center of the "roof" are broken guitar frets. This becomes more clear when viewed from the top in the next picture. (Excuse the louvers in this picture -- these are the safety grills extending out below the Space Needle viewing platform.) The ground-level picture was taken from a point on the right in the top-view picture.

Frank Gehry's broken guitar museum
Frank Gehry's broken guitar museum, looking down from Space Needle

I'd certainly like to go into the building just to see how he can make such a mess into something attractive and useful from the inside. In that respect Gehry's buildings are indeed an attraction, but let's hope one per city is more than enough!

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