The Book On The Needle

Shea Anderson / April 23, 2012

Knute Berger has one of the coolest titles in Seattle: Writer in Residence at the Space Needle.

Berger, who is a regular contributor to and Seattle Magazine, has been digging through the archives for the Needle, and come up with a great book that is a must-have for visitors and residents alike.

Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle,was released over the weekend. It gives the full detail, from the Needle’s conception, funding to construction 50 years ago. Berger filled the book with a broad spectrum of people who were associated with the construction, design and management of the Space Needle, nabbing some forgotten anecdotes and details along the way. The Needle, which began as a doodle in a hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, became a 21st-century symbol that has thrived, for most of its life to date, in the 20th century. 

Berger covers visits by the Kennedys, astronauts, Elvis (the King), as well as real kings and emperors. His account includes forgotten history, such as the fact that back in the ‘60s, an upcoming comedian named Bill Cosby hosted a daily radio from the Needle.

It is, he writes, a “place where we mark the events of our lives, from weddings and anniversaries to bar mitzvahs. It has been the site of first dates, celebrity sightings, births, deaths, and world firsts.”

The book weighs in at 184 pages, with more than 200 images both historical and contemporary.

“Even if one has never been to the top, its presence on the skyline tells a story each and every day, whether it seems to hover like an alien ship landing on top of Queen Anne, or has lost everything but its slender legs in the gray clouds, or catches the brilliant light of a summer sunset,” Berger writes. “Day to day, in ways great and small, it is truly ‘a tower unique and inspiring.’”

Berger is also author of Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes on Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice. He lives, of course, in Seattle.