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The Seattle Center Monorail

Updated on November 9, 2015

The Seattle Monorail at Westlake Center

Seattle's Westlake Center Monorail Station
Seattle's Westlake Center Monorail Station

Take a Ride on the Seattle Monorail

March 24, 2012 was the fiftieth anniversary of the official opening day of the Seattle Monorail. Built in 1961-1962 for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair by the Alweg Rapid Transit Company, it took visitors the one mile distance from the main Seattle downtown business district to the site of the fair. In keeping with the fair's theme of Century 21, the monorail was featured as a promising transportation method of the future.

Some envisioned the World's Fair monorail as just the beginning of a large mass transit system covering the metropolitan area of Seattle. Unfortunately, the plan for a larger monorail system for the city of Seattle was never realized, but the Seattle Monorail remains as a colorful legacy of the world's fair and is useful mode of transportation. The former site of the World's Fair became the Seattle Center and the monorail transports approximately 1.5 million passengers each year between the downtown monorail terminal at Westlake Center and the Seattle Center Monorail terminal. The Seattle Monorail is still the most convenient, quick and fun way to get to and from the main downtown business area and the Seattle Center.

Climb aboard at the Westlake Center Terminal for a little history and a round trip to the Seattle Center on the historic Seattle Monorail.

All Photos by Vicki Green - PNW Travels

Westlake Center Seattle, WA

The Seattle Monorail at Westlake Center
The Seattle Monorail at Westlake Center

Over 58 Million Served

During the 6 month run of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair the Seattle Monorail transported over 8 million passengers between the city center and the fairgrounds. In the 50+ years since the fair, an average of over 1 million people have used the Seattle Monorail each year as a quick and easy way to get back and forth between the downtown area and the Seattle Center.

A Seattle Monorail Poll

Have you ever taken a ride on the Seattle Monorail?

See results

Getting Around in Seattle

Streetwise Seattle Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Seattle, Washington - Folding pocket size travel map with monorail & streetcar lines
Streetwise Seattle Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Seattle, Washington - Folding pocket size travel map with monorail & streetcar lines

This Streetwise Seattle Map is a very helpful resource for navigating around Seattle. It is compact and laminated to keep it dry on those famous Seattle rainy days. In addition to the streets, the map shows the monorail and streetcar lines.

 

Seattle Transportation Options

The Seattle Monorail is one of many transportation options that are available in Seattle. Some others include the King County Metro transit bus system, Sound Transit Light rail and trains, The South Lake Union Streetcar, the Washington State Ferry System, private shuttle servcies and taxis. Seattle is also a very walk-able city and bike-friendly, too! To get around it is really helpful to have a good map.

A Map of the Seattle Monorail Stations

show route and directions
A markerWestlake Center Monorail Station -
Pine Street and 5th ave, Seattle, WA
get directions

The Seattle Monorail Westlake Station is located on the third floor of Westlake Center.

B markerThe Seattle Center Monorail Station -
Seattle Center Monorail, Seattle, WA, USA
get directions

The Seattle Monorail station at the Seattle Center is located right near the Space Needle.

The Westlake Center Boarding Area

The Seattle Monorail Blue Car at Westlake Center
The Seattle Monorail Blue Car at Westlake Center

Boarding the Seattle Monorail at Westlake Center

Take a ride from Westlake Center to the Seattle Center

The Seattle Monorail terminal in the downtown business district is conveniently located on the top floor of the Westlake Center. There are two monorail cars: the blue car and the red car. A monorail car departs every 10 minutes.

In the winter months the monorail operates from 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Thursday, 7:30 AM to 11:00 PM Friday, 8:30am to 11:00 pm on Saturday and 8:30 am to 9:00 pm on Sunday. In the summer the hours are expanded to 11pm every day.

The monorail travels at a top speed of 50 miles per hour and makes the 1 mile trip to the Seattle Center in 2 minutes.

Seattle Monorail Ticket Prices (one way)

2.25 for Adults

$1.00 for Youth ages 5-12

$1.00 for Reduced Rate (Seniors 65+, disabled persons with Medicare cards & active duty U.S. military)

Children 4 and under ride free


All Aboard the Red Car at Westlake Center

The Seattle Monorail Red Car at Westlake Center
The Seattle Monorail Red Car at Westlake Center

Inside a Seattle Monorail Car

Inside the Seattle Monorail Red Car
Inside the Seattle Monorail Red Car

A Ride With a View

View of the Space Needle From Inside the Seattle Monorail
View of the Space Needle From Inside the Seattle Monorail

Building the Seattle Monorail

The Seattle Monorail was built to provide transportation to the site of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair located a mile away from the main central business district. The theme of the Seattle World's Fair was Century 21 so the monorail was selected to demonstrate an example of a futuristic mode of transportation.

The German company, Alweg Rapid Transit System was awarded the project when it offered to underwrite the entire cost of construction. The name "ALWEG" is an acronym for Axel Lennart Wenner-Gren and it was the same company that built the original monorail in Disneyland in 1959. Construction on the Seattle World's Fair monorail began in April of 1961, approximately one year before opening day of the fair.

The Seattle Monorail Under Construction

The Construction of the Seattle Monorail
The Construction of the Seattle Monorail | Source

The Seattle Monorail Grand Opening March 24, 1962

The monorail was completed and opened to the public on March 24, 1962. It was completed in less than a year and nearly one month before the start of the World's Fair. The total construction cost was $3.5 million. During the World's Fair not only was the full cost of building the monorail recovered, but the Alweg Rapid Transit Systems earned a profit. The photo above is the station in downtown Seattle as it looked in 1962. The station has changed considerably over the last 50 years. The Westlake monorail station was modified and incorporated into the Westlake Center which was built in 1988 .

The Seattle Monorail in 1962

Seattle Monorail 1962
Seattle Monorail 1962 | Source

Ride the Monorail from Westlake Center to the Seattle Center

Take a Ride Through the Experience Music Project (EMP)

Seattle Monorail Passing Through the Experience Music Project (EMP)
Seattle Monorail Passing Through the Experience Music Project (EMP)

Seattle Monorail at the Seattle Center Terminal

Seattle Monorail at the Seattle Center Terminal
Seattle Monorail at the Seattle Center Terminal

Signs at the Monorail Terminal at the Seattle Center

Signs at the Monorail Terminal at the Seattle Center
Signs at the Monorail Terminal at the Seattle Center

Seattle Center Monorail Entrance

Seattle Center Monorail Entrance
Seattle Center Monorail Entrance

Seattle Monorail Souvenirs - Monorail Photos and Posters

For collectors of monorail souvenirs and collectables, there are both vintage posters from the Seattle World's Fair and recent ones that include the Experience Music Project.

Monorail from The Seattle Center to Westlake Center - The Return Trip

© 2010 Vicki Green

How did you like your virtual trip on the Seattle Monorail? - Your comments are welcome - please let me know you visited this page.

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    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      We have the sky train in Vancouver which is comparable, fun way to do public transport -:)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Nice tribute to the Seattle monorail (and to Seattle.) Blessed.

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from Rhode Island

      This is a wonderful lens and virtual trip the photos are fabulous thanks

    • dcopps profile image

      dcopps 5 years ago

      Excellent lens. Pity the monorail wasn't extended to serve the entire city.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 5 years ago

      Nice lens! Seattle Monorail is great in serving the people. Sundae ;-)

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      Nice informative lens. Sydney has a monorail but it is about to be closed down. Featured this on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs

    • profile image

      Waterfront-Properties 4 years ago

      I love Seattle! Such a hip city!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      haven't had a chance to ride yet, but it's on my list of fun things to do

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