Sixty stories tall

It is midday, and in the overcast, industrial gloom Seattle’s most famous landmark looks like an ugly water tower. No one looks their best in unflattering light. The Space Needle really needs the dark to shine. Its white stem looks spectacular against the deep blues of a night sky. 

The West Coast’s parallel to the Eiffel Tower is a bizarre thing—in some ways resembling a flying saucer on a stick, it nevertheless owns the local sky. It looms as a landmark, seen from many neighborhoods. I get a chill every time I glimpse it because it reminds me that I am indeed in Seattle. I moved here a few years ago just because I wanted to be somewhere fun. I had never visited, and I was not coming for school or a job. I chose Seattle based on reputation alone. I have not regretted my decision.

Despite the symbolism the structure has for me it took me quite a while to explore its insides. Visiting the Space Needle is relatively expensive, and I figured I didn’t want to pay good money to ride an elevator. A visiting friend wanted to see it, so I finally went. What a powerful experience! I’m sure the tourists love it, but it was particularly special to get a new perspective on my own home. I could see my Zen temple from overhead, the ferries I had taken and Lake Union, where I had visited Gas Works park. From my eagle’s perch I could see how all my separate experiences fitted together. I’m rather afraid of heights, but I felt safe up there. 

It’s odd how we resist visiting the landmarks in our own town. I grew up near New York City but I only recently visited the Empire State Building for the first time. The same CityPass saw me floating around Manhattan on a Circle Line tour, seeing the locks and docks I’d never even considered. I’d also never realized Roosevelt Island was there. I thought I’d seen the city, but I’d seen only my parts of it. Every place, no matter how small, is infinitely vast. So much to explore! So many places to wander! 

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

48. Visit a tourist destination in your own town. If you live in a small place and don’t know where to go, call the Chamber of Commerce and see what they recommend. Does this change your perspective on your home?

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