We’ll just say it — looking back, the early 1960s fascination with chrome as an essential part of the future was kinda goofy. But that era in Seattle did bring us some big icons — blow out the candles while we celebrate the Seattle Monorail’s 60th birthday.
We’ll talk about more Seattle World’s Fair history in the coming months, but let’s flash back to a simpler time with wide-eyed wonder, and maybe some giggles.
The shiny “new” Monorail 🚝
Construction began on the Monorail in 1961 before opening its sliding doors to the public on March 24,1962 (yes, like today today). It was intended to be an easy transportation option for folks traveling between downtown and the fair’s festivities. And while its reputation for being the “public transit of the future” seems a little … well, not entirely correct now, it did carry over 8 million people back and forth during the six months of the fair.
The real future 🔮
Right before the first-ever Seattle Kraken home game last October, a $7 million construction project was completed on some brand new Monorail amenities at the Westlake Center Station. The station got roomier and can now handle 3,000 passengers per hour.
While no immediate plans exist for future Monorail improvements, Seattle Monorail Services president Megan Ching said they’re heavily eyeing opportunities to improve the Seattle Center Station next.
Some other quick facts:
- The top speed is 45 mph, about 10 mph slower than the Light Rail
- The two train sets used on the monorail are the originals from 1962
- Conan O’Brien, who wrote the famous “Simpsons” Monorail episode, once gave it a shout out (his wife is from Seattle)
Party time 🎉
Everyone — even public transit — likes a good birthday shindig. To celebrate its 60th, the Seattle Monorail folks are hosting a little party at the Seattle Center Station on Tues., March 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with music, snacks, a raffle, activities and a birthday banner. The first 200 attendees get their own swanky 60th anniversary commemorative Monorail coin.