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Cleaning the Glass at a Seattle Icon

October 18, 2018

Approximately 1.3 million people visit Seattle’s iconic Space Needle every year. But as “Lead Glass Keeper,” Paul Best is one of the few who arrives early enough to witness the sunrise from such a storied vantage point.

“You put on a little bit of music, you watch the sun come up, it’s quiet. It’s pretty spectacular and changes every day,” he says.

That view was made even more spectacular when the Space Needle was remodeled last summer with 20,000 square feet — 176 tons — of additional floor-to-ceiling glass. Best and his crew work daily, and diligently, to ensure all that glass is crystal clear.

A typical day of glass cleaning includes “smudge patrol” — the elimination of fingerprints or lipstick or “kid goo” right before visitors arrive.

Best’s entire life, he says, revolves around a building that best defines the city he’s called home since 1987.  

Here, we follow Best on a typical day and catch a glimpse of those spectacular sunrise views.


Aileen Imperial

Aileen Imperial is a multimedia and documentary producer with a commitment to thoughtful observation and engagement. Her work has aired nationally on the PBS American Masters series, PBS NewsHour, and she is a 4-time Emmy winner for feature videos in the Arts, Culture, and Human Interest. Find her on Twitter: @imperealize

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