Originally built for the 1962 World's Fair, the 74-acre (30 ha) Seattle Center is an arts, educational, tourism and entertainment center in Seattle. Its landmark feature is the 605-foot (184 m) tall Space Needle, a now-iconic building that was, at its completion, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Seattle Center is located just north of Belltown in the Uptown neighborhood.
Seattle Center as night falls
Location in the United States
- An unparalleled public gathering place, unique in the world, the 74-acre Seattle Center campus offers 40 acres of open space. It provides a home for over 30 cultural, educational and entertainment entities – and a stage for over 16,000 events and activities in 2016. Located in the heart of the urban core, the Center is run by a City department, also called Seattle Center, which serves as landlord, entrepreneur, developer, custodian, producer, promoter and partner. It provides rental spaces for a spectrum of commercial and community functions and serves as the largest live touring concert venue in the city. Seattle Center counted over 2.2 million visitors in 2016, maintaining its spot as the top tourist destination in the state (Puget Sound Business Journal Book of Lists).
- International Fountain, located in the middle of the campus, operates all year round. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the fountain was built as a modernist water sculpture and extensively updated in 1995. With over 20 spouts, the fountain goes through programmed cycles of shooting water patterns, accompanied by recorded world music. The music is changed twice a month, chosen to coordinate with the water patterns and events programming at the center.
- Space Needle, an official city landmark, with its observation deck and revolving restaurant
- Seattle Center Monorail terminus
- Seattle Center Armory (known as Center House from the early 1970s until 2012, and the Food Circus from 1962 to the early 1970s) This includes Center Theatre, home to Seattle Shakespeare Company and Book-It Repertory Theatre, as well as the Children's Museum, The Center High School and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. Before the 1962 World's Fair, the building was an armory. Seattle Center Armory is an official city landmark.
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP, formerly EMP Museum)
- Chihuly Garden and Glass
- Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center is one of the larger rental venues on the grounds and the first City of Seattle building to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The large, flexible space can accommodate a wide range of commercial, charity and community events.
- Kobe Bell, an official city landmark
- Mercer Arena, formerly a sports, concerts, and opera venue before sitting dormant for several years, is currently being redeveloped as the future home of Seattle Opera.
- The outdoor Mural Amphitheatre, featuring a mosaic mural by Paul Horiuchi: the Horiuchi Mural, created for the World's Fair, is an official city landmark.
- The Northwest Rooms, once a small conference center, now houses SIFF Film Center, The VERA Project and the headquarters of KEXP 90.3 FM.
- Pacific Science Center, home of the Boeing IMAX Theater, PACCAR IMAX Theater (formerly Eames IMAX Theater ), and Seattle Laser Dome
- Seattle Center Pavilion, adjacent to KeyArena, the Pavilion accommodate all kinds of trade shows, meetings and community events.
- Seattle Center Skatepark aka Sea Sk8 Park, at the entrance at Thomas St. and 2nd Avenue N.
- A piece of the Berlin Wall stands inconspicuously in the Seattle Center Armory Food Atrium.
Seattle Center Productions (SCP), the public programming arm of Seattle Center, presents over 500 free and affordable events throughout the year, many in partnership with community organizations. The programming helps SCP to live into its mission to present programs, events and environments filled with art, entertainment and enrichment for all people. Seattle Center public programming includes: Community Created Events - This innovative initiative allows people and organizations to share their special abilities and pursuits through events and exhibits at Seattle Center that involve members of our community in ways that provide joy, laughter and inspiration.
- KEXP and Seattle Present Center Concerts at the Mural, the series, on Friday evenings in August, takes advantage of warm summer evenings to provide a stage for some of KEXP's favorite artists. 2017 marks the 10th year of the series, which offers free, all-ages shows tailored to the culturally curious who seek to discover the best of the area’s independent music scene.
- Seattle Center Festál, this series of 24 ethnic cultural festivals, held on weekends throughout the year, seeks to connect people in ways that build understanding, dispel stereotypes and generate pride among the generations who participate in these shared experiences. In 2017, Seattle Center Festál celebrates 20 years of global music, dance, art, crafts, history, food and insight presented through a unique partnership among community organizations and Seattle Center.
- Seattle Center Movies at the Music, this family-friendly film series, Saturday evenings at the gently sloping Mural Amphitheatre, begins at dusk and offers drama, adventure and suspense on a state-of-the-art 45-foot, outdoor screen.
- Seattle Center Whirligig!, Seattle Center Armory transforms into a lively, colorful hub of child-sized entertainment during the typical spring school break period. Whirligig! offers a variety of inflatable rides, balloon artists, face painters, caricaturists, an assortment of Student Showcases and a wide selection of foods from Armory eateries. Whirligig! is suitable for children 12 and under. A Toddler’s Zone is also available. During Ride Free Thursdays, children may ride at no cost.
- Seattle Center Winterfest, this festive celebration, presented between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day each year, offers indoor ice skating, live weekend entertainment, student showcases, storytelling, exhibits and more. Highlights include the miniature Winter Train and Village in Seattle Center Armory, master ice sculpting every Saturday afternoon and a spectacular New Year's Eve celebration.
- Winterfest and Whirligig! Student Showcases provide entertainment as part of our seasonal offerings and give aspiring young performers the opportunity to share their artistic accomplishments with family, friends and the community. In 2016, 4,566 young artists participated in 107 performances.
- Seattle/King County Clinic, people in need of dental, medical and vision services may receive them free-of-charge at the largest free health clinic ever organized in the State of Washington. This huge community undertaking, in its fourth year in 2017, takes place October 26-29 at KeyArena.
- Seattle’s Best Damn Happy Hour, SCP hosts this popular evening program, 5pm-8pm the third Thursday of every month. Live hosts and DJs, along with an array of big gaming, prize drawings and other interactive activities attract a broad audience, individuals who work, live and play in the vicinity looking for an engaging, fun evening.
- Summer and Winter Fitness, weekly yoga and Zumba® classes provide convenient and free fitness opportunities for downtown/Uptown/South Lake Union workers and residents who are looking for fun ways to stretch, move and breathe.
Kreielsheimer Promenade and Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle Center.
Monorail tracks enter the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) building.
The towers of the Pacific Science Center at night.
EMP and Space Needle seen against the backdrop of the Seattle waterfront and Puget Sound.
Center House, Seattle Center.
- Seattle Repertory Theatre, home of the Bagley Wright Theatre, the Leo Kreielsheimer Theatre, and the PONCHO Forum
- Center Theatre, home of the Seattle Shakespeare Company and Book-It Repertory Theatre
- Theatre Puget Sound
- The Center School
- Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, home of productions of the Cornish College of the Arts
- Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, home of Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet, whose ballet school is adjacent. This is the third performance space on this site, the second being the Opera House built at the time of the World's Fair.
- SIFF Cinema, the year-round home of the Seattle International Film Festival features world cinema all year, as well as during the regular Festival Season in May and June.
- Seattle Children's Theatre
- The Vera Project (or VERA)
Seattle Center hosts many cultural, music and arts festivals. Major attractions include:
Seattle PrideFest is the Official Seattle Gay Pride Festival held annually at Seattle Center over Pride Weekend. The festival takes place on the last Sunday in June between 11am and 7pm. This event used to take place in neighboring Capitol Hill's Volunteer Park, but had out grown its residential location. It was decided to move the annual parade to downtown and festival to the Seattle Center to better accommodate the growing attendance. In 2007, Egan Orion of One Degree Events took over the Seattle Pride Festival just six weeks before the event was held in order to save the event and help preserve the move to the Center the year before. 2008 had record numbers at the Seattle Center with over 50,000 people attending on a 95 degree day in June, with over 100 vendors and dozens of sponsors participating.
There is a long history of consecutive plans for physically revision of Seattle Center. Ever since Seattle City Council approved the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan in August 2008, it has effectively directed physical change on the 74-acre campus. This future-looking, 20-year plan sets forth 10 planning and design principles to effectively guide redevelopment. Completed first phase projects were realized through an innovative mix of public and private funding. They include: Seattle Center Skatepark, Broad Street Green, Seattle Center Armory (partially complete), Theater Commons, Chihuly Garden and Glass and Artists at Play (playground). Halfway through its 20-year duration, the Master Plan is primed to respond to some significant external changes, alongside exciting new opportunities on the grounds, to continue physical transformation at Seattle Center so that this unique urban campus can continue to accommodate the needs and desires of the broader community for many generations to come.