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A step back in time as 1982 time capsule discovered inside Space Needle is opened

Items found inside a 1982 time capsule inside the Space Needle{ }(KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE ā€” A time capsule buried inside the Space Needle on its 20th Anniversary was opened Friday morning ā€” only 15 years late.

Inside the time capsule were various letters, photographs and trinkets that Space Needle officials intended to have opened on the Space Needle's 40th year anniversary on April 21, 2002. Instead, it was just rediscovered last week during the Needle's $100 million renovation project.

One of the Space Needle employees in 1982 who helped put the capsule together was on hand Friday morning to reopen it and said the memories came flooding back.


"The first (memory) was remembering the people I worked with and knew all through out the organization," said Rod Kauffman. "But the second thoughts were to the owners of the Space Needle and how wonderful they were to all their employees and how kind they were.... a lot of fun times, a lot of interesting Space Needle stories flood back."

Among the most notable items in the box included an original drawing of the Space Needle's SkyLine restaurant at the 100 foot level, the master key that opened all the Needle's locks in 1982, an audio recording from KOMO News Radio commemorating the 20-year anniversary, a photo of three women who were among the Needle's original elevator operators and an original menu from the SkyCity Restaurant in 1982.

So, did everyone just forget the time capsule was there?

"I knew it was in there, my wife's handwriting was (the one who wrote the open date)," Kauffman said. "I don't know if anyone forgot it... But the Space Needle wouldn't have normally opened up this beam for any reason."

But construction crews did uncover the hidden capsule as work is underway to completely redesign the observation deck and restaurant.

Kauffman worked at the Needle for 18 years and said if he were to create a new capsule he'd put many of the same items in there.

"My time at the Space Needle was really wonderful, but I'm thinking about what the Space Needle has meant to the City of Seattle," he said. "The incredible part about it is that the Space Needle is just as relevant and wonderful today as it was back then -- even more so now with what they're doing."

Items Found Inside the Time Capsule:

  • Original poster from the 1962 World's Fair
  • Original menu from the Space Needle Restaurant in 1982.
  • Original magazine from the World's Fair in 1962.
  • In 1982, master key that opened every lock in the Space Needle
  • Scotch 3M Audio recording of the 20th Anniversary Broadcast on KOMO NewsRadio 1000, dated April 21, 1982.
  • Some original 1962 photographs including the three women who were among the original elevator operators.
  • Original designs of Space Needle Restaurant at the 100-foot Skyline level.
  • Original construction photos of the Skyline Deck
  • Employee photos and letters to the future
  • Copy of Space Needle Work Order
  • Commemorative certificate from Washington Lt. Governor John Cherberg to Space Needle on 20th anniversary
  • Photo of Howard Wright, who owned the Space Needle.
  • Photo of Rod Kauffman atop the Needle in 1982

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