• Deborah Kade

Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, August 7. 2018

While Michael was in meetings until 5 PM, I decided to explore Seattle. First stop was the monorail to take me to the Space Needle.

Seattle Center Monorail, an elevated monorail line, is the nation’s first full-scale commercial monorail system and a beloved Seattle landmark.

I sat in the front seat and waited for the operator.

The Monorail provides a fun, quick, and convenient link between downtown Seattle and Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Pop Culture, Key Arena, The Children’s Museum, and a host of theatrical and cultural experiences. Seattle Center Monorail is a public transit route with a top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h). Owned by the City of Seattle, the line has been operated by private contractor Seattle Monorail Services since 1994. It was given historical landmark status by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board April 16, 2003.

The monorail, which cost $3.5 million to build, opened on March 24, 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair held at the current site of Seattle Center. Eight million people rode the monorail during the half year the fair was open; today, annual ridership is around 2 million.

Originally, the south end of the line was a large station over Pine Street at Westlake Avenue that formed a lid over the street and a portion of what is now Westlake Park. In 1988, the station was moved north a block with the construction of the Westlake Center shopping mall on what had been the right-of-way of Westlake Avenue.

The Westlake station of the monorail has an elevator down to the Westlake Station of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, a stop for the Central Link light rail line, and major Metro bus lines. Westlake Center is also near the southern terminus of the South Lake Union Streetcar and numerous surface bus routes.

At the northern end of the line, the Museum of Pop Culture building was designed so that the monorail passes through it on its way to the terminal.

The Seattle Center Monorail is operated by a private contractor, Seattle Monorail Services (SMS), which took over operation from the City in June 1994. Operating profits, which can be as much as $750,000 per year, are split between the City and SMS.

Service operates daily, and trains depart every 10 minutes from the station at Seattle Center en route to Westlake Center Mall, at Fifth and Pine Street. Each trip takes two minutes to cover the approximately one-mile route. Every train can carry up to 450 passengers per trip. The monorail provides two-train service during special events and activities, with departures every five minutes or less.

One-way fares are $2.50 for adults, $1.25 for youths aged 5–12, and $1.25 for reduced rate, including seniors citizens 65 years and older, disabled individuals, persons with Medicare cards, and active-duty U.S. military carrying their identification cards. Round trip fares are twice the price of a one-way fare, while children four and under ride free.

Seattle Center Monorail system is composed of two trains and a fixed guideway. Each train runs on its own dedicated “rail,” which is composed of 68 y-shaped columns supporting pairs of concrete beams, which span the columns. The typical pre-stressed concrete beams are approximately 70 ft long. The highest columns are around 30 ft overhead. The guideway is just under 1 mile in length at the present day, but when it was built in 1962, it extended beyond Westlake Center and was a little longer than 1 mile. Construction of the guideway began in April 1961 and was completed in January 1962.

There are two trains: Blue Train and Red Train. The trains were built by ALWEG Rapid Transit Company in West Germany in 1961, and were shipped to New York City where they were placed on traditional rail cars and transported to Seattle. Blue Train arrived before Red Train, and was placed on the beam in February 1962. On March 3, 1962, Blue Train made its first test run.

Each train has 64 tires: 16 load-carrying tires ride on top of the beam, and 48 guide tires run along the sides of the beam for alignment purposes. The 16 load tires run as duals in eight wheel/suspension assemblies called “bogies.” Each bogie has 2 load tires, 6 guide tires, an air suspension system, a 700VDC motor, gearbox and drive train, and a brake assembly. The motors were manufactured by GE and the gear boxes were built by Rockwell.

The Monorail trains run on 700 volts DC, which is supplied to the trains through contact rails on each beam. Carbon shoes contact the copper-headed rail to transfer power to the propulsion system, which in turn supplies current to the DC motors.

In 2008, a major refurbishment project started with the bulk of the refurbishment work being completed in 2011, although there continues to be ongoing projects. During this refurbishment, all of the bogies were overhauled, and the low voltage electrical and pneumatic systems were completely replaced. In addition, the power rail and insulators along the 1-mile guideway were replaced. This work was very necessary after nearly 50 years of operation. The refurbishment work was very successful and resulted in improved reliability and serviceability.

Each train is powered by four 750 Hp DC Motors running at 700V and typically drawing up to 700 amps. The motors are controlled by a mechanical motor controller that adjusts the position of the motors and number of resistors in the circuit. The motors run into a standard truck differential, with one side blocked off and the other running to the driving wheel, which runs a standard truck tire.

The electric current is drawn from a two-tiered electric rail that is aligned with the side of the track. The top rail is ground, with the live rail suspended beneath it.

The monorail uses dynamic braking for higher speed braking (over 10 mph), and has drum brakes for lower speeds.

Today, the trains carry over 2 million passengers every year. The monorail has become an important fixture in Seattle for locals, who use the trains during major festivals and sporting events. The monorail can carry 250 passengers per train. When operating in two-train service, the monorail has the capacity to move 6,000 passengers per hour (both directions) or 3,000 passengers per hour (one direction).

Monorail Man (AKA Trainus Prime) is over seven feet tall and was created by the Seattle Monorail Services Maintenance Team from discarded parts from the Monorail trains and supporting systems.

Monorail Man was completed just in time for Earth Day 2015! He is made from used parts that are no longer suitable for the current system configuration. In all, Monorail Man was built with about $15.00 in scrap metal, but the artistic value of Monorail Man is incalculable! Everyone wanted their picture taken near him!!

Most people take a few pictures of the Space Needle. Not me!!!!! I walked all around it and took pictures. Well, the light is different from different locations and angles.

There is a little park next to the Space Needle. Enjoyed photographing some of the flowers.

An interesting rock and tree

This Japanese maple has some disease and it will be removed. A musician whom played by it remembers when the tree was first planted many years ago. He told me he is sad to lose the tree.

Some other "things" around the area of the Space Needle.

This building has been used in some "Grey's Anatomy" shows.

This Peace Pole is located in the Seattle Center Peace Garden, located just West of the Space Needle turnaround. In the Peace Garden is the Peace Pole, a sculpture entitled "Middle East Peace", a mosaic table entitled "Conflict Resolution Table" designed by the teenagers of the Seattle Center Peace Academy and the Aki Kurose rock (honoring a Japanese American educator and peace activist in 2002). The garden was designed in 1996 and is meant to be a quiet contemplative area. Cobblestones, salvaged from the original Seattle Center International Fountain during its renovation, form a winding path through the little garden in which the memorials and sculptures are placed.

A sculpture in the Chihuly Garden. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona has the same sculpture.

Check out those gas prices!

This sea gull followed me all around the Space Needle. Guess he thought I had some food to share.

Beautiful totem pole

"When the Pacific Science Center in 2013 put out a call for public art demonstrating solar energy, Dan Corson submitted a proposal. He called his musing a “Humming Heliotrope.” Heliotrope, in Latin, means “turning toward the Sun.”

“I was thinking about how some flowers move in order to capture the Sun,” says the artist. Corson drew up a plan for five towering sculptures of flowers, inspired by the flower of the Australian fire-wheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus), to sprout from the grounds of the science center near the base of Seattle’s famous Space Needle. The flowers would light up at night, thanks to electricity generated by day courtesy of solar panels on their faces. They’d also hum as people walked around the stems."

The five Sonic Bloom flowers are each 20 feet in diameter and up to 40 feet tall. They are constructed of steel, acrylic, fiberglass, paint, custom voltaic cells, LEDs, sensors, interactive sound system and energy data monitoring systems.

In the playful context of Seattle Center's festival grounds, five giant solar energy generating flowers absorb the sun's energy and express it at night with dynamic LED lighting and in the daytime with a chorus of interactive harmonic tones triggered by people's movement around each flower. The striped stalks are also massive bar codes that allow inquisitive types to decode the supersized puzzle.

My next stop: Pike Place Market.

I decided to "look up" on my way to the market. Seattle has some beautiful and interesting architecture. There was a firefighters' convention in the city. At the Public Market Center, I sat and talked to some of them from New Orleans and Philadelphia. After looking at the buildings and knowing Seattle has had earthquakes, I asked if I was safer in the glass buildings or the concrete ones if an earthquake struck. Interesting discussion!!

Pike Place Market is Seattle's epicenter of fresh produce, specialty foods and independent businesses. Established on August 17, 1907 to connect citizens and farmers, the Market continues its “Meet the Producer” tradition with a year-round farmers market, owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands and specialty food stores.

Within the nine-acre historic district you'll discover dozens of farmers, a bustling crafts market, and more than 200 unique owner-operated shops. There are more than 80 restaurants to tempt you, from take-out counters specializing in donuts to fine dining establishments. Bring your appetite and enjoy exploring Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market’s dozens of specialty food stores carry the spices, ingredients and products for nearly any kind of culinary endeavor or adventurous recipe. Specialty grocery stores sell pasta, truffle oil, herb vinegars, olive oils, teas, spices, grains and curries. Shop for cheese, meat, baked goods and imported products from Bavaria, France, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Africa, India and beyond.

Year-round produce stalls feature an abundant variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables sourced from around the globe and right here in Washington. Fish markets provide fresh seafood from Pacific Northwest and Alaskan waters, and Market butchers provide shoppers with the finest, locally produced meat and poultry for weekly dinners, holiday meals or celebrations. Shop from purveyors of artisanal foods made from regional products like pickles, sauerkraut and kimchee as well as artisan cheese, chocolate covered Washington cherries, preserves, dried fruit and jams.

All your senses get a workout here!

They had tied a rope to the end of the monk fish and moved it whenever someone walked by. Many screams, jumps and laughs!

Flowers.....Flowers..... Flowers....

The original Starbucks near Pike Place Market is a popular tourist attraction in Seattle. It's something people visiting always want to see. The first Starbucks was opened by an English teacher, a history teacher, and a writer in 1971 in a location a few blocks north of the highly trafficked "original" Starbucks. The three entrepreneurs were impressed by the dark roasted coffee offered by Peet's at the time and wanted to make their own in Seattle, so they started Starbucks as a coffee bean company. The store they first opened was on 2000 Western Ave. It moved to its location in Pike Place Market five years later. The original Starbucks is actually no longer at the location on 2000 Western Ave. When they moved it, they actually moved it (meaning the original was gone after that). So there's a partial truth to the Pike Place location being the original Starbucks -- it was one of the first stores, but not the first.

Which ferry do you want to catch?

There is so much to see and do in Seattle!


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