Seattle Underground Tour: Scandal, Spooks, and the Sewer
Seattle is such a unique place. We didn’t have to spend much time there for it to quickly move up our list of favorite cities. It’s unique, quirky, unusual, friendly, and pretty hip. When you think of Seattle, you probably think of the music scene or the coffee scene…but what about the underground scene?
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Have you heard the stories about Disney World having secret underground passageways? That’s precisely what I thought of when I found out that Seattle had underground tunnels of its own. However, these tunnels are not for costumed characters and food delivery. They are actually the original streets and sidewalks of Seattle. And you can take a tour to learn all about them.
A tour underneath one of the most famous cities? You know we signed up ASAP!
The tour is officially called Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, and it’s a great one. The guy wrote the book on it. Literally.
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Bill Speidel was a historian and writer for The Seattle Times. In 1964, Bill gave the first underground tour of Seattle to over 500 people. Today, people are still interested in what lies beneath the streets, and the tour is one of the most popular things to do in Seattle.
Bill Speidel passed away in 1988, but his legacy lives on with the Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour.
At the original level, rain and mud were an issue. So, too, were the wooden structures. The Great Seattle Fire in 1889 led to the decision that all buildings had to be built from brick or stone, and, they would raise the streets up from the too-low, muddy level.
For quite a while, the street was an entire level above the sidewalks and entrances to the buildings. To cross the street meant that one had to climb a ladder, cross the street, and climb back down to the sidewalk. Can you imagine?!
Raising the streets also solved another problem…plumbing had been an absolute nightmare because of how low the city was. When the tide came in, the toilets ran backwards. Flushing created fountains.
The Gold Rush brought in many businesses, including bars and brothels, both making their home on the original level of Pioneer Square. Needless to say, the area did not have the best reputation.
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Eventually, the sidewalks were brought up to street level, the bottom levels became basements, and the upper levels became storefronts. And the Seattle Underground was forgotten. Until Bill Speidel began his tours.
You can take this very same tour and learn all about the original Seattle. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, there are also spooky versions of the tour that are conducted via flashlight only.
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Our tour guide turned off the lights for us for just a few seconds, but many of the tourists in our group couldn’t handle it. I definitely have my own fears, so I won’t say a word about theirs!
Taking a Seattle Underground Tour is definitely a must if you’re in the area. The tour is interesting, entertaining, and actually pretty funny. We had a blast! You’ll definitely walk away remembering the history of Seattle!
Also, if you’re wandering through Seattle and you happen to walk across some purplish-colored glass in the sidewalk, you are walking on a skylight of the underground tunnels. Pretty neat, huh?
For more information, visit the Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour website.
What do you think about touring Underground Seattle? Have you been on this tour before? What is the most interesting city tour you’ve ever been on? Let us know in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and three fur babies. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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