The idea for Needle was first doodled on a napkin or placemat by Seattle hotel executive
Edward “Eddie” Carlson during a visit to Stuttgart, Germany in 1959. He saw the potential of a
Space Age tower as a symbol for the 1962 fair and the Seattle skyline.
Five Seattle investors organized the “Pentagram Corporation” to build the Space Needle. They
were financier Bagley Wright, contractor Howard S. Wright, architect John Graham, Jr., financier
Ned Skinner, and timber magnate Norton Clapp. The Howard Wright Construction Company was
the general contractor. In 1977 Bagley Wright, Skinner and Clapp sold their interests to Howard
S. Wright. The Pentagram Corporation has since become the Space Needle LLC.
Chief architect John Graham, Jr. oversaw the design. He wanted a top to the Needle that
resembled a UFO. He also had built a revolving bar in Hawaii and adapted that turntable
technology to the Needle, making it the first free-standing rotating restaurant in the world.
Elvis Presley made a movie at the fair that featured a love scene in the restaurant.
During the fair the Needle was a magnet for ‘60s leaders, artists and celebrities including The
Shah and Empress of Iran, King Olaf of Norway, Prince Philip, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson,
Bobby Kennedy, Walter Cronkite, John Wayne, Walt Disney, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Johnny
Mathis, Billy Graham, Peggy Lee, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Leontyne Price, Chubby Checker,
and scores of other.