4 Ways to Celebrate the Seattle Monorail's 50th Birthday

Saturday, March 24 marks the 50th birthday of the Monorail, Seattle's iconic and "futuristic" train that connects Seattle Center and the downtown Westlake shopping center. For such a short and kooky ride, the Monorail evokes lots of love and nostalgia among locals. If you share these sentiments, take a minute to enjoy one of these expressions of appreciation for the train's dutiful 50 years of service:

1. Play the Monorail Video Game

Forget riding the monorail, ever dream of driving it? Evidently, 14-year-old McKaulay Kolakowski did. After hours of programming and staring at Google Street View, he designed a free computer game that puts you behind the “wheel.” Just choose between the blue or the red train and you're ready to cruise past several of the Seattle landmarks you'll see from the real train's window. An adorable interactive game that recalls the days of 8-bit Nintendo, you can travel with the train's doors closed or wrecklessly open and even honk the horn. The Mill Creek native plans to continue developing the game, adding more features and expanding his virtual monorail to new routes that go beyond its downtown track. What could possibly be a more fitting 21st century tribute to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair? Jump on board at mckaulay.com. (Hat tip, Seattle Weekly and Daily Herald.) -Katie Joy Blanksma

2. Learn Fun Facts about the Monorail

If you have ever wondered how many adult male elephants the monorail could support, this beautifully designed video has the answer, along with several other pieces of fun Monorail trivia:

3. Read "Why the Monorail is Still the Best Ride in Town"

As part of our March issue transportation cover story, Feliks Banel reflects on the history of the monorail and why it's stuck around for so long in this nostalgic essay.

4. Go for a Joy Ride

The folks over at the Monorail have a big plans for the Monorail's 50th birthday on Saturday, March 23, including free rides granted to anyone who saved their ticket for a ride between 1962 and 2010. Full schedule after the jump:

From the Monorail website:

Anniversary Celebration highlights:

8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.:  Monorail is open. Passengers who present a Monorail ticket dated between 1962 and 2010 or a photo of themselves as a child riding the Monorail ride for free.

9 a.m.:  On board guided tours with the Monorail’s own Jayme Gustilo, named 2012 Seattle Tourism Ambassador of the Year. Jayme will point out significant landmarks along the route and share the Monorail’s history.

10 a.m.:  Commemorative monorail medallions given to the first 200 passengers who purchase a ticket to ride from Westlake Center to Seattle Center. The medallions resemble the original medals given to inaugural passengers in March 1962.

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.:  Displays of historic photos and memorabilia on-board the parked Monorail train on the platform at Seattle Center, musical Elvis performances, prize drawings, and light snacks and beverages.

  •  The Children’s Museum, Seattle, in partnership with the Monorail, invites children to join them on the Seattle Center Monorail platform to color in the The Official Century 21 Coloring Book created for the 1962 World’s Fair. Materials will be provided also for them to make ‘Happy Birthday’ cards for the Monorail trains.
  • Seattle Center Monorail is also pleased to announce a new community partnership with Treehouse, which will be formally launched on the day of the event. Treehouse is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to giving foster kids a childhood and a future. Throughout the year, Seattle Center Monorail provides special events and opportunities free-of-charge to Treehouse youth and families.

11 a.m.: Public ceremony on Seattle Center Monorail platform.

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.:  Monorail facility tours offered for guests interested in learning about how the trains work. Tours for adults take place at 12 p.m. and 12:40 p.m. Tours for families with children take place 12:20 p.m. and 1 p.m. Space is limited, so guests are encouraged to register for the tour ahead of time.

12 p.m. – 3 p.m.:  Children may create their own version of the Monorail at using Legos® and can also put together Lego® kits of different modes of transportation at The Children’s Museum, Seattle.

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