The Seattle Center

Just north of downtown, the Seattle Center is a hub of attractions, festivals, and activities for visitors and residents of the city alike. Totaling 74 acres and offering everything from shopping and dining, to fairgrounds and parks, to water fountains and festivals, it’s hard to visit Seattle without including the Seattle Center.

Money Saving Tip! Many attractions located in The Seattle Center are included on the Seattle CityPASS. If you are sightseeing in Seattle, then you can save a lot of money with a pass.

Seattle Center History

The Seattle Center was first constructed back in the 1960s for the occasion of the World’s Fair, also called the Century 21 Exposition. The Century 21 Exposition was held between April and October of 1962 and featured a theme of space travel and the United States’ role in the exploration of outer space. The idea was to project an air of confidence and prove that the U.S was not, in fact, behind the Soviet Union in the “Space Race” of the mid-20th century. The choice of Seattle, home to the Boeing Company, was therefore quite perfect for the Exposition’s location and the results were an infusion of money and infrastructure that the city desperately needed.

As many World’s Fair locations, Seattle Center was planned to leave a lasting impact on the city and help to revitalize its struggling economy and cultural life. As such, the design of Seattle Center as a permanent public park and entertainment area allowed it to serve as a central hub for the resulting boost that the Exposition allotted to the city. In addition to the general construction of the center itself along with the aptly-named Space Needle, this also meant the addition of an extensive monorail system, the Alweg Monorail, which travels through downtown and terminates at Seattle Center.

Perhaps the biggest attraction of the Seattle Center, however, is its International Fountain. Originally built for the World’s Fair, the fountain features over 20 separate water jets which run through a preprogrammed cycle set to music. Operating year round, the music changes each month and so does the water choreography that accompanies it. The music played is always representative of the fountain’s international theme and may include array of international tunes from folk to contemporary. The International Fountain is a popular area in the summer especially as children enjoy using it as an way to cool off on a hot Seattle day.

The other major draw of the Seattle Center is the Center House, an official city landmark that was an armory prior to 1962. The main building used for the World’s Fair, today Center House contains an array of dining and shopping options along with the Center House Theatre, which is home to the Seattle Shakespeare Company.

Seattle Center contains several other important points of interests for visitors and tourists as well. In addition to the Space Needle, a must for any first-time Seattle trip, the Center is the terminus for the monorail, which provides a great mode of transportation into the downtown area. There are also several other cultural institutions which surround the Seattle Center including a Children’s Museum, the Pacific Science Center, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), Key Arena, Chihuly Garden and Glass

Seattle Repertory Theatre, McCaw Hall, and the SIFF Cinema.

The Seattle Center Main Attraction

Today, Seattle Center remains true to its initial intention and serves as a strong central locale for the city and its cultural scene. Located just north of the “downtown” area in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, Seattle Center is a truly centralized location that offers locals as well as tourists a great gathering area for concerts, festivals, and more.

As a public park and arena, there is no admission fees to enter the Seattle Center though, obviously, many of its correlating landmarks, such as the Pacific Science Center and Space Needle, will charge separate admissions prices. Its open spaces are available to the public 365 days a year.

In addition to its base offerings, the role of Seattle Center as a cultural hub for the city means that a full slate of festivals and events are held in the area year-round. Most popularly, this includes summer events such as the Bumbershoot Music Festival and the Seattle Pride Festival as well as a Winterfest during the holiday season.

Why the Seattle Center is a Must-See

The central location of the Seattle Center along with its role as a cultural centerpiece of the city makes it really hard to avoid at least passing through this area on a trip to Seattle. Truly taking the time to see this important Seattle locale is well worth it, however. With the sheer number of events, attractions, restaurants, and entertainment opportunities it has to offer, there is something to do every day and something to please every personality.