Flying fish and streets of flowers
March 13, 2012
When you see a photo of the Space Needle, you know that you are looking at the famous icon of Seattle, Wash. I’ve always thought of Seattle as special, my Granny’s hometown, where my family would travel to visit her while I was growing up. I can remember sleeping out on her back porch and looking at the red blinking light on the top of the Space Needle, shining above all the city lights glowing around it, and Granny reading us the story of the “Weedle on the Needle.” It’s a fun kids book about a creature who lives on top of the Space Needle … (read it sometime and you will learn the Needle’s secret.)
In 1962 the Space Needle was the crown jewel of the Seattle World’s Fair, called “Century 21.” This 605-foot, one-of-a-kind structure, was remarkably built in a record one year and four days. It cost $4.5 million (that’s 1962 prices, mind you) and has been visited by 1.2 million people each year since. It’s been host to all kinds of famous people over the years.
Elvis Presley, Walt Disney, John Travolta, and even Prince Phillip of Great Britain and the Shah of Iran have enjoyed the view and fine dining in the revolving restaurant at the top. Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Carter, along with astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong have gazed out across the Seattle skyline from the observation deck.
In 1992, Seattle rang in the New Year with the first-ever, New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration launched from atop the Needle. It has become a fun “Times Square of the West” annual tradition in the Pacific Northwest for locals and visitors alike.
In June of 2000, a $20 million, year-long revitalization was completed and the Space Needle was looking new again. The signature space, a revolving restaurant, was redesigned and renamed “Sky City.” The Observation Deck had an overhaul, exterior lighting was added, and the whole structure was re-painted. A “Legacy Light” sky beam was installed, making the updated Space Needle THE place to visit in Seattle. The 50th Anniversary of the Space Needle is this year, with loads of celebrations and ceremonies to take place. Everyone is invited to be a part by sharing your favorite Space Needle stories, photos and videos. The website, http://www.SpaceNeedle50.com, is giving away great prizes to a lucky few who share their old memories … including a party for you and 50 of your guests at the Space Needle’s Sky Line level, which houses the banquet facilities. I just might have to jot down some of my “Granny Vacation” tales and send them in myself!
Another great place you shouldn’t miss while in Seattle, is the famous historic Pike Place Market on Pike Street, along the waterfront downtown. Here, for over a century, the “Soul of Seattle” has flourished in an open farmers market. Its history is one of the fascinating tales of the city. In 1906 and 1907 the outraged citizens were fed up with paying price-gouging middlemen for their produce. Seattle Councilman Tomas Revelle proposed a public street market, where farmers could sell directly to the consumers. On August 17, 1907, eight farmers brought their wagons of produce to the corner of First Street and Pike. By 11 a.m. they were overwhelmed and sold out, because thousands of shoppers wanted their fresh goods. Revelle’s idea was a success and by the end of 1907, the first Pike Place Market building opened, with every space filled.
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Today, the Market is an internationally recognized, premier farmer’s Market and is home to more then 200 year-round businesses, 190 craftspeople, and 100 farmers who rent table space for the day. Street performers and musicians play all along the cobblestone street of shops and on the many different levels throughout the Market. You buy fresh produce, fish, and hundreds of products of all kinds at the Market. It attracts 10 million visitors a year, making it one of Washington state’s most frequently visited destinations.
On a recent family visit, I headed down to Pike’s Market. Wandering in and out of shops filled with a zillion different things, from Polish pottery, Irish linen, Alaskan art, to handmade crafts of all kinds. There was something new around each narrow corner or level. Under the low ceiling of the main walkway, rows and rows of fresh vegetables and fruits, beautifully displayed, were “hawked” by the sellers, offering sample bites to entice buyers.
On the street side, what looked like a mile of bouquets in every rainbow color and size filled the air with the mesmerizing perfume of flowers. The World Famous Pike Place Fish Market, under the antique Market sign and beside the brass Pig you rub for good luck, is my stop for fun. Here buyers can kiss their salmon on the lips before they buy it, and watch as the guys toss the fish through the air to the man behind the counter for wrapping, hollering the whole time in loud laughing voices. Next door, the tea and spice shop took my nose from fishy to their wonderful aromatic aromas and here too, I found the best teabag squeezer in the world!
Huge shrimp cocktails and crab legs are sold all along the Market for a quick great snack or you can head downstairs to the Brewery and have a Pikes Beer ‘n Sandwich. I have to admit, that I never leave the Market without having a delicious bread-bowl of clam chowder and watch the ferry come in to dock … and I highly recommend you do the same … when you visit my Granny’s hometown!