UW Today

October 16, 2013

Lost and Found Films: Building the Space Needle, 1961

News and Information

We travel back in time 52 years for the latest installment of Lost and Found Films, to the 1961 construction of the Space Needle and the Monorail in downtown Seattle.

Lost and Found Films is an occasional UW Today series that shows off vintage footage from the UW Audio Visual Materials Library curated by film archivist Hannah Palin.

This three-minute bit of color footage shows the iconic orange structure of the 600-foot needle about half finished, and parts being lifted into place with a crane. Midway, the film shifts to a scene of the monorail’s T-like supports being installed along Fifth Avenue. Finally, we see a family walking along and pan upward to see the finished Monorail cruise by overhead.

The family seen is the Rayner Heacock family of Vancouver, B.C., who donated decades of their home movies to UW Libraries.

Lost and Found Films has in recent years presented footage about which Palin wished to learn more information — from shadowy black-and-white snippets to thoughtfully created color campus productions. Readers responded with great personal memories and historical details.

Palin’s work identifying film snippets is now largely complete, but that’s no reason to stop running cool scenes from the UW’s vast archives of vintage film. If you have memories of the early Space Needle or its construction, use the comments field below.

You can learn a lot more about the Space Needle — which gets about a million visitors a year and is 848 steps from bottom to top — at its website.

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