The Seattle Monorail and the 1962 World's Fair

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The Seattle Center Monorail was originally built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair to provide a link between downtown Seattle and the fairgrounds and it still operates today. It is an elevated straddle-beam monorail line that runs along 5th Avenue between the Westlake Center in Downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center with no intermediate stops. The 0.9-mi (1.4-km) line was constructed by Alweg Rapid Transit Systems and it opened to the public about one month before the start of the World's Fair. The Seattle World's Fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition, was held April 21 to October 21, 1962, on a site that is now called Seattle Center. The fair saw the construction of the Space Needle, the monorail, several sports venues, and performing arts and exhibit buildings. Nearly 10 million people attended the fair and it was estimated that more than 8 million rode the monorail during the six months of the fair. The monorail has operated for over 60 years and has been declared a historic landmark and continues to be a popular tourist attraction. Today, it is owned by the City of Seattle and is operated by Seattle Monorail Services, a privately run business, and annually carries over 2 million passengers. This paper presents an overview of the Seattle World's Fair and provides background, history, and operating characteristics of the famous monorail.

Publication Title

Automated People Movers and Automated Transit Systems 2022 - Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Automated People Movers and Automated Transit Systems