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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Fear of Needles

As both of you who read this web site already know, I live in Seattle, Washington. More specifically, I live in the lower Queen Anne area of Seattle. More specifically still, I live one block from the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center is a sort of campus that is home to the Sonics’ basketball arena, the Frank Ghery Experience Music Project, the Science Museum, the Seattle opera and ballet, the terminus for the monorail, and the Space Needle built in 1962 for the World’s Fair.

The Space Needle is without a doubt Seattle’s most recognizable architectural feature. I would go so far as to say it is one of the country’s most recognizable architectural features. An elevator whisks you to the top. Once you are there you can enjoy the revolving restaurant which has commanding views of the city and the surrounding Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges—so I’ve been told. I’ve never been up there.

I have lived in Seattle now for six years. I live so close to the Space Needle that for most of my day it is in full view, but I have yet to make the pilgrimage to the top. Don’t rush me.

I was on a date a while back and we were going to do the touristy, kitschy thing and go to the top of the Needle, but then we learned that when you get to the top there is no longer a bar, only a restaurant. I can’t do kitsch without a drink or two. I have thought that I probably could live here for a lifetime and not make it to the top of the Needle, and I wouldn’t feel unfulfilled in any way. I had never bothered to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower until a couple of years ago and I regret doing that to this day. Had the Eiffel Tower pilgrimage not been so insanely over-crowded I probably wouldn’t have hated it. The Space Needle doesn’t seem to attract the appallingly large hoards as does the Eiffel Tower; it just seems like a corny thing to do.

The thing about going to the top of the space Needle is that when you get there you can’t see Seattle’s most recognizable architectural feature which is the Needle. If I want a bird’s eye view of the city I just have to pedal my bike to the top of Queen Anne hill. The view from Kerry Park is as spectacular as the view from the Space Needle and you can see the Space Needle from Kerry Park. Kerry Park isn’t much to look at so who cares if you can’t see it from the space Needle? It doesn’t cost $11 to get to the top of Queen Anne hill, all it takes is a car or a lung-busting bike ride.

As with a lot of the other tourist attractions in Seattle, I will probably make it to the top of the Needle when I am entertaining out-of-town visitors. I have done a lot of other corny tourist things around town when I’ve had visitors. Some of them I have actually enjoyed, like when I took my nephew to see the Russian submarine docked down on the waterfront. But until one of my guests insists on dragging me up to the top of the space Needle, I’ll keep looking at it from the ground.

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