Happy Birthday, Seattle Monorail!

So the Seattle Monorail turns 52 today.

Yes, it’s been 52 years since the 1962 World’s Fair that brought the Monorail to town. Once discussed as the possible future of transportation in Seattle, these days the Monorail exists primarily as .9 mile nod to nostalgia and the past. The Monorail’s red and blue trains carry roughly two million passengers each year from Westlake to Seattle Center, many inspired to fork over the $2.25 one-way adult fare for nothing more than the experience of hopping on. As Seattle Monorail Services General Manager Thomas Ditty explains, the Monorail’s ridership is largely built on “Seattle folks … using the Monorail for celebratory things.”

“These aren’t tourists,” says Ditty. “Some of our biggest weekends are Seattle weekends,” like Bite of Seattle, Folklife and Bumbershoot. Ditty says the Christmas season is also good for Monorail business. That said, Ditty is also quick to point out the 120 monthly pass users that use the Monorail to commute.

“Once you hit that 50 year mark, you’re iconic,” says Ditty of the Monorail’s place in Seattle. “I think these days people are thinking of [the Monorail] quite fondly.”

How does a Monorail celebrate a birthday? Cupcakes, of course – which were handed out from noon to 1 p.m. - and a small raffle. For the most part, says Ditty, the birthday will be business as usual.

“When you get to this age you don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but you like to have some celebration,” explains Ditty, who says 80 cupcakes from Cupcake Royale were procured for the occasion, handed out “until we run out of them.”

“It’s just something to be kind of fun,” says Ditty of the party, adding that they “threw in some t-shirts” and other small prizes as part of the raffle.

You can check out a whole boatload of historical Monorail photos via the City of Seattle Archives.

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