Built in 1985, the Columbia Center is the 7th tallest building in the USA, and at 932 feet, it is the tallest building in the entire Pacific Northwest. The building has 76 floors, 46 elevators, and the antennas on the roof bring the total height to 967′.
While the Space Needle is Seattle’s Statue of Liberty, the Columbia Center is our Sears Tower. Our Empire State Building. It’s the centerpiece of the best skyline in the solar system. It’s the first thing you see when you approach Seattle, and the last thing you see when you leave.
I live in the shadow of this building, about 8 blocks away, but until today, I had never been to the top.
Fortunately, a clear day lined up with an appointment I had in Pioneer Square this morning, and afterward I decided to go ahead and check out the Sky View Observatory.
From the lobby of Columbia Center, I took the elevator to the 40th floor and stopped at the Starbucks in the Sky. I grabbed a quick coffee and a few photos here, then proceeded to take a second bank of elevators to the 73rd floor.
I walked out of the elevator, turned left, gave a man $5 for admission and …….. wow.
I was speechless.
Good god, this town is ridiculous. Just silly. The scenery here is impossible, and at times you have to rub your eyes to make sure you’re not having polydrug flashbacks.
From the observation floor, you can see for 100 miles in any direction, except north (the view is 270 degrees). The Olympics to the west, Mt. Rainier to the south, the Cascades to the east, and everything in-between. Ferries and traffic below, and airplanes and helicopters almost at eye level. From this high up, both the Puget Sound and Lake Washington look like puddles. It really is breathtaking.
While looking to the south, I could spot work being done on the interior of Qwest field. I’m not sure what they are doing, but it looks like a drastic overhaul.
Speaking of Qwest … you know … I understand why Seattle sports teams suck.
Think about it.
Look around you.
Now look at pictures of any other city in this country.
If Seattle was this beautiful, and had winning teams, it would be patently unfair to the rest of the nation. We’d be rubbing their nose in their abject municipal inferiority.
This is an empathetic town, though.
Losing teams are the bone that Seattle tosses to the rest of the nation as a consolation prize for not being anywhere near as great as Seattle.
I’m really not even joking. For crying out loud, look at this scenery.
I’ve been to every observation deck in every city in North America, but no place compares to Seattle. Not even close. Not … even … remotely … close.
I walked around for about two hours, and I really didn’t want to leave. I was transfixed. The view was like a religious experience for me, only better.
Unfortunately, there’s always a fly in the ointment, and my fly was this guy:
This thoughtless individual staked out the best corner on the observation deck, and proceeded to yap on his cellphone for 30 minutes as people queued behind him to get pictures. It was surreal. The weed just stood there talking to his friend about his girlfriend (she is thinking about buying a place in Seattle but isn’t sure she wants to commit to the area since her family lives in Colorado) and wouldn’t budge. As far as he was concerned, he was the only person up there. I really, really wanted to see this guy fly head-first down 73 stories.
I tried my best to capture the view from the observatory in this post, but trust me, pictures are not sufficient. This has to be experienced first-hand.
The Sky View Observatory is open from 8:30am – 4:30pm Monday through Friday. No night shots and no weekends. Also, there is a Metro Traffic Control radio station at the top, and you have to keep your voice down.
If you come to Seattle and can do one thing, and one thing only … the Columbia Center Sky View Observatory would have to be it. At this point, I would have to call it the best kept secret in Seattle. Unlike the Space Needle, there is no line here, and the price is only 5 bucks.
It’s the best five dollars I have ever spent in my life.
If you have yet to go up to the Columbia Center Sky View Observatory, then do yourself a favor and go.
If you can’t make it today, then call in sick tomorrow.
If you have a heart attack or get run over by a car before you have the opportunity to see this view, then your life will have been wasted. You must make it to the top.
It’s as close to heaven as most of you will ever get.