The Seattle Center Monorail
The Seattle Monorail at Westlake Center
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
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?
Getting Around in Seattle
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
The Seattle Monorail Westlake Station is located on the third floor of Westlake Center.
The Seattle Monorail station at the Seattle Center is located right near the Space Needle.
The Westlake Center Boarding Area
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
Inside a Seattle Monorail Car
A Ride With a View
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 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
Ride the Monorail from Westlake Center to the Seattle Center
Take a Ride Through the Experience Music Project (EMP)
Seattle Monorail at the Seattle Center Terminal
Signs at the Monorail Terminal at the Seattle Center
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