Sky City Restaurant, Space Needle, Seattle, WA, USA
07.03.2007 - 07.03.2007 6 °C
John Graham Jr. was born in 1908 in Seattle, and must have admired his father very much, because he followed his father's footsteps and became an architect. His father was a famed architect who designed many of the buildings in Seattle. After graduating from Yale in 1931, John Graham the Junior developed quite a career designing shopping malls across America. In 1961, he was hired to design a mall in Honolulu called the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Looking around, he said to himself, "gosh, there is a nice view in every direction. Wouldn't it be great if someone eating at the restaurant could get all these views, instead of just one view." He then put on his favorite record of 1961, "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis and watched as the record revolved around and around at 45 rpm, and it suddenly hit him. "THE RESTAURANT SHOULD REVOLVE!"
The next year, he returned home to Seattle, where they were just starting to build their Space Needle for the 1962 World Fair. Looking at Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains to the west, the Cascade range to the East, Lake Union to the north and Mount Rainier to the south, he thought to himself, "I could save a lot of work if I just reuse that tacky revolving restaurant design I used in Honolulu last year..." And thus was born The Eye of the Needle, billed as the world's first revolving restaurant (despite the fact that La Ronde in Honolulu, designed by the same architect, was already spinning in the South Pacific).
As a relatively seasoned traveller, I like to think that I am beyond the point to be wowed by tourist sites. I've seen Niagara Falls too many times to even be thrilled by it. I've been up the Eiffel Tower, but how can that compare to sitting around in a cafe on a side street in Paris. I'm there to experience the "real" place, not the place where one is most likely to run into other tourists.
Thus, I could (and did) easily cast aside the experience of being atop the Space Needle in one of my past entries on Seattle. It was touristy and crowded and not really that indicative of the place that I was visiting. It was not a place, much like Toronto's CN Tower, that locals bother visiting.
Upon booking a reservation for four at the Sky City restaurant, the new name of the revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle, I was prepared to be underwhelmed.
Every so often in one's experiences, though, one is taken aback by the joy of an experience that one would think they would just detest. An example of this was a trip I made to Vancouver back in 2002, when my friend said, "I've rented a stretch limo for us to cruise around in tonight!"
(An aside - Sarabeth and Kathryn - I swear, I am going to mention you in my blog very, very soon. Just stick through this one small story, and you'll be featured prominently).
Now, I'd been in a limo before, back when I was a teen-ager and underage drinker and heading to prom. But frankly, as a 34 year old I was pretty sure I was beyond the point of being impressed by a limo, and was pretty sure I would just be rolling my eyes and sighing all night.
But a strange thing happened as we cruised around in our stretch limo, listening to banging rock and roll music and drinking imported beers. I started to really enjoy it. What I thought would be a tacky and embarrassing experience became something that was absolutely and totally fun.
And thus it was at Sky City on Wednesday night, revolving around at 1 revolution per 47 minutes looking out at Seattle at night, eating very pricey seafood and drinking very pricey beer and having an absolutely fantastic time.
Myself, and three co-workers, Trebor, Sarabeth and Kathryn had booked a 6:15 reservation at the revolving restaurant. I wasn't expecting too much. But soon we were having a good time, laughing and enjoying appetizers. And then the first card appeared.
Kathryn and Sarabeth, the coolest people on the planet enjoying the coolest dessert on the planet.
The Sky City restaurant revolves, but the windows stay still, and so any item left on the window still will soon recede from you and start approaching your fellow dinners. As we sat there, a card appeared on the window sill.
"My name is Laura, and I am from San Francisco. Where are you from?" We grabbed the card, and quickly wrote down our information.
Sarabeth - Washington, DC
Kathryn - Louisville, Kentucky
Trebor - Princeton, NJ
Greg - Toronto, Canada
More cards followed - "What's your favorite song?" "What is your favorite animal?" "What's the best advice you've ever received?" (the answer to that was "you don't want to date me, I'll just end up hurting you." Unfortunately, I didn't listen. But it was really, excellent advice.). All the cards were written by children, and all were obviously having a great time.
Dinner was very good (though the price was quite high - YIKES), but the key item was dessert. The signature item of Sky City, dating back to the days of the 1962 world fair, is the Lunar Orbiter, a hot fudge sundae presented in swirls of dry-ice Seattle "fog."
And so I found myself quite enjoying what I felt I shouldn't have. It's not hte first time that's occurred recently - the same thing happened during my "all-inclusive vacation" in Panama. Perhaps I'm growing, learning to accept more and be less judgemental of experiences.
But then again, perhaps I'm just getting old and searching for better ways to justify my desires for comfort.