Seattle Center Monorail

Seattle Center Monorail
Seattle Center Monorail.svg
TypeStraddle-beam monorail
LocaleDowntown Seattle, Washington
TerminiSeattle Center (west)
Westlake Center (east)
Daily ridership7,000
DesignatedAugust 4, 2003[1]
OpenedMarch 24, 1962
OwnerCity of Seattle
Operator(s)Seattle Monorail Services
Line length0.96 mi (1.54 km)
ElectrificationThird rail 700V DC
Operating speed45 mph (70 km/h)
Route map
Seattle Center
Westlake Center
Link Light Rail
Link light rail

The Seattle Center Monorail is an elevated monorail line in Seattle, Washington, that operates along Fifth Avenue between Seattle Center in Lower Queen Anne and Westlake Center in Downtown. Seattle Center Monorail is a public transit route with a top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h). Owned by the City of Seattle, the line has been operated by private contractor Seattle Monorail Services since 1994.[2] It was given historical landmark status by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board April 16, 2003.[3]

Creation and route

South terminus of the monorail in 1963

The monorail, which cost $3.5 million to build, opened on March 24, 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair held at the current site of Seattle Center. Eight million people rode the monorail during the half year the fair was open; today, annual ridership is around 2 million. The line and its trains were built by Alweg Rapid Transit Systems.[4]

Originally, the south end of the line was a large station over Pine Street at Westlake Avenue that formed a lid over the street and a portion of what is now Westlake Park. In 1988, the station was moved north a block with the construction of the Westlake Center shopping mall on what had been the right-of-way of Westlake Avenue.

The Westlake station of the monorail has an elevator down to the Westlake Station of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, a stop for the Central Link light rail line, and major Metro bus lines. Westlake Center is also near the southern terminus of the South Lake Union Streetcar and numerous surface bus routes.

At the northern end of the line, the Museum of Pop Culture building was designed so that the monorail passes through it on its way to the terminal.