New Yorkers pride themselves on the Statue of Liberty, San Franciscans the Golden Gate Bridge. Both are sturdy, sensible landmarks that reflect well on the cities surrounding them.
Then there's Seattle, with a '60s-era spaceship revolving 605 feet above the city.
But Seattle residents wouldn't have it any other way. That's why they've been partying for months to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Space Needle, their iconic landmark in the sky, built as a tourist attraction for the city's 1962 World's Fair.
In honor of the birthday, I revisited the Jetson-esque Needle for the first time in years and found it well-dressed for the party, following a $25-million face-lift. It's decked out with a "Galaxy Gold" coat of paint, oodles of oldies music wafting through the sound system and some high-tech additions such as touch-screen interactive maps. Tickets range from $12 for children ages 4 to 12 to $19 for adults (400 Broad St., Seattle;  905-2111).
W Seattle doesn't have as good a view of Puget Sound as the Space Needle does, but at 26 floors, it offers a sparkling panorama of downtown Seattle. The hotel, which underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation earlier this year, has an updated lobby and a new restaurant and bar called Trace. But I was too entranced with the view to spend much time in the lobby. I whiled away the evening at the window of my room admiring the city far below (1112 4th Ave.,;  264-6000. Rates start at $259).