The 50th anniversary of the Century 21 Exposition, aka the Seattle World's Fair, is coming up in 2012, and the Space Needle is considering how to celebrate.
Recently, a reader and KUOW-listener bugged me to ask them if they'd be bringing back the torch on top. The point of the Needle used to be fed with natural gas and could be lit up, a burning torch in the night sky. Will the Space Needle bring back the torch for the 50th?
No, according to spokesperson Mary Bacarella. First, the torch mechanism was torn out years ago and would cost too much to reinstall. Second, burning a huge natural gas flame is not exactly eco-friendly (though neither is the carbon footprint of glass-making). So, the Needle won't be turning the light on when it hits the half-century mark.
I vote to re-paint the entire Needle in its original colors, with the tangerine top and yellow base. For the 40th anniversary, the Needle did repaint the top "Galaxy Gold," and it was wonderful, a rare chance to see it in its mid-century modern splendor. According to the book The Space Needle: Symbol of Seattle by Robert Spector, the original colors were "Astronaut White for the legs, Orbital Olive for the core, Re-entry Red for the halo, and Galaxy Gold for the sunburst and pagoda roof." As of 2006, the Needle had been painted four times since 1962, and it takes 2,000 gallons to do the job.
Not everyone likes the old colors and many prefer the current neutral look. Bacarella says a few Queen Anne hill residents complained about the orange top (did it not go with the drapes?), but then, she says, people care so much about the Needle that no change goes without people who love it or hate it. Still, I'd like to see it enter its second half-century dressed in its original garb.