Alfred H. Fast collection on the Space Needle, 1961-1962

Overview of the Collection

Fast, Alfred H.
Alfred H. Fast collection on the Space Needle
1961-1962 (inclusive)
.21 cubic feet, including 135 photographs , (1 box)
Collection Number
2005.6 (accession)
Materials about the Seattle Space Needle, including photographs documenting its construction, collected by Alfred Fast, Project Architect
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library

P.O. Box 80816
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2063241126 x102
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public by appointment.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Alfred H. Fast (1917-2004), working for the architectural firm John Graham & Company, was the Project Architect for the Seattle World's Fair Space Needle. Fast graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Vienna in 1938, and served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers on the Pacific front in World War II. While with John Graham & Company, Fast also worked on shopping mall projects in Washington and Oregon, including the Bon Marche, Alderwood Mall and Medford Shopping Mall. Fast also worked for Pietro Belluschi in Portland, Oregon, Victor Gruen Associates in Los Angeles, and WESTCOR in Phoenix, Arizona.

Alfred Fast was married to Ruth Fast of Seattle. The couple had two children, Daniel Fast of Los Angeles and Josey Fast of Seattle.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists largely of photographs which document the construction of the Space Needle, from ground-breaking to completion. A series of photographs from Pacific Car and Foundry Company largely documents the fabrication and erection of the steel work, and a series by Roger Dudley for John Graham Architects includes several images documenting construction of the restaurant. Other photographs depict the completed Space Needle as part of the World's Fair grounds. Other materials include promotional publications describing the conception and construction of the Space Needle.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

The architecture of the 605 feet tall Space Needle, built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition), was the result of a collaboration between businessman Edward E. Carlson and architect John Graham. Inspired by a visit to the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, Carlson's space-age vision for the Fair's central structure included a tower resembling a tethered balloon surrounded by cables; the top of the structure would house a restaurant. Graham turned the balloon into a flying-saucer shape, and wanted the restaurant to revolve, like the one in a tower he had previously designed for the Ala Moana shopping center in Hawaii. A dozen architects in Graham's firm worked on sketches and ideas, and University of Washington architecture professor Victor Steinbrueck provided the hour-glass shape of the tower. The final compromise was reached just a year and a half before the fair was to open. John Graham, contractor Howard S. Wright and others formed the "Pentagon Corporation" to finance the project. Howard S. Wright Construction Company was the contractor for the Space Needle construction and the Pacific Car and Foundry Company (PACCAR) was the subcontractor for the steel fabrication and erection.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the camera icons in the inventory below.

Restrictions on Use

The Museum of History amp; Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Alfred H. Fast Collection on the Space Needle, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Location of Collection


Acquisition Information

Gift of Josey Fast, Al Fast's daughter, January 24, 2005.

Processing Note

Processed in 2005 and 2009. The bulk of the construction photographs were arranged into 2 large series by photographer, and arranged in photographer number order (which is chronological).

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

PhotographsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Construction documentation
1-57: Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Image of Space Needle construction, 1961
Workers readying concrete pour for Space Needle foundation, May 22, 1961
Core section of Space Needle under construction, June 26, 1961
Core section of Space Needle under construction, July 21, 1961
Construction of Space Needle restaurant deck, December 18, 1961
Construction inside the Space Needle restaurant and observation deck, March 14, 1962
Roger Dudley (photographer)
57 photographs 8 x 10 inches
The photographs are 3-hole punched on upper horizontal edge and printed on lower right border with "Space Needle, John Graham & Co. Architects, Howard S. Wright Construction Co., Contractors" with a line for the date, which is written in ink on each photograph. A schematic of the footprint of the Space Needle is printed in the lower left corner of each photograph, with an arrow drawn to indicate the viewpoint.
Each photograph is also stamped on verso with business stamp of photographer Roger Dudley.
The photographs depict construction of the Space Needle, from the laying of the underground steel framing to the completed structure. Images show the concrete foundation, construction of the interior column, steel beam construction of the legs and the building of the top section, including twenty views of construction of the restaurant, up to the installation of appliances and the finished interior. The series also includes two photographs of artist renderings of the restaurant, and one photograph of rendering of the space needles and various plan views.
1961 May 15-1962 March 30
7-11 1961-1962 May
Other construction related photographs
101-105: Fire alarm station
5 photographs 3.25 x 4.5 inches
Five street level views of the fire alarm station at 4th Avenue North between Thomas and John Streets which was demolished for construction of the Space Needle on the site. Built in 1908, the structure served as Fire Station 4 from 1908 until 1921. In 1925, the building was converted to serve as a fire alarm station.
1961 February
106-110: Space Needle models and rendering
5 photographs 8 x 10 inches
Photographs by Fred Miller Photographers , Seattle; Yang Color Photography , Seattle.
Four photographs of a model of the Space Needle and one photograph of a rendering of the Space Needle Restaurant by R.E. Fansler.
111-114: Wind tunnel test
4 photographs 8 x 10 inches
A six foot architectural model of the Space Needle was tested for air flow, air drag and other issues at the University of Washington wind tunnel.
1961 March 24
115-117: Turntable construction
3 photographs 8 x 10 inches
3 photographs depicting machinery used to produce parts for the Space Needle's turntable, including a boring mill and drill press, and one photograph of a turntable platform section under construction.
118-119: Elevator capacity test
2 photographs 8 x 10 inches
2 photographs showing elevator filled to capacity, viewed from overhead. One photo shows the elevator filled with women and is inscribed on verso: 4000# car Nominal full load 38 persons-female. The other shows the elevator filled with men and is inscribed on verso: 4000# car Nominal full load 27 persons-male.
120: Aerial view of Coliseum under construction
Official publicity photographs
7 photographs 8 x 10 inches
Each photograph stamped on verso: Complimentary Photographs. The Seattle World's Fair. Century 21 Exposition. Public Relations Dept. Seattle 9, Washington. Please reorder by number.
Seven photographs, each accompanied with a captioned typed on a separate sheet.
121: View of Space Needle and fair grounds
Accompanying caption: As the monorail speeds to its downtown station the passengers picked up at the Seattle World's Fair can look back and see the 600-ft. Space Needle, the Food Circus building, the Washington State Coliseum and many of the other displays. (World's Fair Photo No. GS 2853mf.)
122: Fountain lit at night
Accompanying caption: This fountain is near the entrance to the Fine Arts Pavilion at the Seattle World's Fair. Exhibited in the pavilion is the finest and most extensive collection of painting, sculpture and art objects ever gathered in the West. (World's Fair Photo No. FA 4955mf.)
123: Reflection of Space Needle in Coliseum windows
Accompanying caption: The Space Needle with its revolving restaurant is reflected in the tinted windows of the Washington State Coliseum. (World's Fair Photo No. NC 4377mf.)
124: Man in room with pipes under International Fountain
Accompanying caption: The final adjustment is made on the water controls beneath the International Fountain. The fountain is lighted for evening visitors to the Seattle World's Fair. (World's Fair Photo No. F 2920mf.)
125: Garden and pond in Oregon State Exhibit
Accompanying caption: The inside of the Oregon State Exhibit has a luxurious garden of ferns with water falls and fountains adding extra life. World's Fair visitors have this exhibit on their must list. (World's Fair Photo No. 0 4951mf.)
126: Night view of Gayway
Accompanying caption: At night the Gayway is a world of wonder. Lights shine on happy faces as World's Fair visitors tour the gayway seeking and finding fun and excitement in the rides and games. (World's Fair Photo No. 6096mf.)
127: Fountains near Science Exhibit
Accompanying caption: The middle court of the U.S. Science Exhibit features fountains and pools bridged by raised platforms leading to the buildings. The exhibit tells the story of science as the scientist would like to have it told. Congress appropriated $9.5 million for the exhibit. (World's Fair Photo No. S 2991mf.)
Miscellaneous photographs
128-133: Views of the Space Needle
Number 128 and 129 by Forde Photographers , Seattle.
6 photographs 8 x 10 inches
134: Four men being served tea by a waitress at the Space Needle construction site
The table at which the men are seated is on top of what appears to be the turntable for the top of the Space Needle, which will support the eventual restaurant.
Identifications attached to verso: A.H. Fast, Project Architect, John Graham & Company
L.A. Myhre, Vice-President and Division Manager, Western Gear Corp.
Jack Borg, President, Top of the Needle, Inc.
Harlan S. Bixby, Howard S. Wright Construction Co.
Kathy Dolan, Model
135: Rendering of the Bon Marche at Alderwood Mall
Dudley, Hardin & Yang, Inc. , Seattle (photographer)
Unrelated to the Space Needle construction. Alfred Fast worked on the Bon Marche project for John Graham & Company.

Other materialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
136: "The Space Needle--Fact Sheet" prepared by Carl Gruff Associates, New York, for John Graham & Company
12 pages
Promotional article describing the Space Needle, including its conception, its design and construction, and safety testing, with sections about the turntable and Eye of the Needle restaurant.
137: Pamphlet: Special Report from United States Steel on the Space Needle
2 pages
circa 1961
138: Space Needle USA, book by Harold Mansfield and George Gulacsik
72 pages
139: Artists' Sketchbook of the Seattle World's Fair, souvenir book with reproductions of drawings by Charles Swanberg
72 pages

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Architecture--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Building sites--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Building--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Space Needle (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Space Needle Restaurant
  • Towers--Washington (State)--Seattle

Corporate Names

  • Century 21 Exposition (1962 : Seattle, Wash.)

Geographical Names

  • United States--Washington (State)--Seattle

Form or Genre Terms

  • Photographs

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Dudley, Roger (photographer)
    Corporate Names
    • Pacific Car and Foundry Company (Renton, Wash.) (creator)