Total Pageviews

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The pergola, Pioneer Square

Down under the streets of Seattle near Pioneer Square, as we wander through a warren of tunnels an amusing and informative guide tells us of the city's early history. In the mid 19th century these 'streets' and passageways were ground level but after the streets were elevated they fell into disuse and are now a major tourist attraction. Pioneer Square is the city's oldest neighborhood.  The lovely wrought-iron pergoa was built in 1909 and underground there was a fancy bathroom which is now closed since the Seattle earthquake a few years ago. The term "Skid Row" was coined to describe the Square where huge logs shoved from the highlands west of town skidded downhill to the waterfront. There is a memorial at the Square for Chief Seattle whose people once lived on that land.

Chief Seattle
The tour groups meet in an old bar at the coffeeshop and ticket office of the Underground Tours. A guide tells the history of the city in a most entertaining way, preparing us for the tour.  Then we are divided into small groups and assigned another guide for our adventure under the streets of the city.

The old bar room
Entrance to the underground
When Seattle was first built up in the 1800's all the buildings were wooden. On June 6, 1889 a fire was accidentally ignited by an overturned glue pot and the fire bread so rapidly the core of the city was destroyed. To insure against a similar disaster, in future all streets had to be graded and new buildings had to be of stone or brick and only one to two stories high.
Touring the underground
Pioneer Square had been built on land-fill in the tideland's and as a consequence it often flooded. Flush toilets had to be installed that funnelled into Elliott Bay and made so that sewage didn't back up at high tide as it had before. When the new buildings were constructed, the ground floor would eventually be underground and the next floor up,was the new ground floor.

Brick arches provided the ceiling for the underground corridors and supported the sidewalks above. Streets were lined with concrete walls forming narrow alleyways between the walls and buildings.  Pedestrians had to climb ladders to go between street levels and the sidewalks in front of the building entrances. Skylights with small panes of clear glass were installed creating the area now known as the Seattle Underground.

The Underground was condemned in 1907 for fear of bubonic plague. The basements were left to deteriorate or were used as storage. Some became flophouses of the homeless, speakeasies and opium dens.

In 1965 a local citizen, Bill Speidel, established "Bill Speidel's Underground Tour", realizing there might be an interest in the underground ruins. Over the years this tour has become more popular and the underground structures have been refurbished.

Items in the Underground Museum
Printing press and typewriter
Copy of the original "Crapper" (named for the man who invented the first flush toilet)

There is also an adults-only Underworld Tour.  At one census report at the turn of the century there were reportedly 10,000 loggers living in Seattle and 2500 'seamstresses'.  These women, were of course prostitutes.  The most famous Madam in Seattle was Lou Graham. She had a bevy of 'seamstreses' working out of her house and ran a money-lending operation as well.  When she died in the early 1900s she bequeathed all her money to the Seattle school board.
Madam Graham is on the left and her four favorite girls (the prize one is in black)
In the Underground Museum you'll see a photo of Madam Graham and four of her most popular girls. There's a secret to this photo:  the one dressed in black was the most popular of the girls but clients had to know that in order to choose her for her special services.

Lou Graham's house of ill repute at Washington and 3rd Ave.

The daily tours start on the hour from Pioneer Square, from 10 -7  May- Sept and 11 - 6 Oct-April.
The Underworld Tours is daily May - Sept 8 & 9 pm and October-April Thursday-Sat. at 7 & 8 pm.
608 First Avenue. Tickets at  or at the Underground Tour meeting place.

NEXT: The Pacific Science Centre and The Wonders of King Tut's Tomb.


Unknown said...

Loved your article.I really liked how you explained it.I’m not sure if you are aware, but we have a similar page that has this information and I truly believe that your readership would benefit from our blogs.

Unknown said...

Great post it’s very helpful for traveller. Also check Kerala Honeymoon Tour Packages

Goflyla Korea said...

Thanks for sharing this. Exploring Seattle's underground" could be really great and adventurous. Book your trip to Seattle's with Expedia discount code from Goflyla and grab the best deals.

Discover Iceland said...

Amazing post. Loved reading it. Looking for some adventure, Discover Iceland

TirpnStay said...

17 amazing South American countries having stunning night view

Explore The 11 Best Spanish Islands
Want to explore the best beaches in Spain? Then head towards this section to amaze your eyes with some of the stunning Spanish beaches.

best travel blogs
travel information
best travel websites
top travel blogs
travel resources online
travel information
travel blog
honeymoon places in india

helen brown said...

Buy malegra 25 Online is a drug that is used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and all the problems which are related to it. It is a generic alternative for Viagra– a branded medicine that is also used in the treatment of sexual dysfunction in males. The composition of Malegra is similar to that of Viagra i.e. it consists of sildenafil citrate as its active pharmaceutical agent.

Zumi said...

This is so nice and worth reading article. lodge in sukhumvit

maria berglund said...

Buy fildena 120 Online belongs to a group of medicaments known as PDE5 inhibitors. In order to understand exactly how the medication works it is necessary to understand the physiological mechanism of erection. After the s**ual arousal, nitrogen oxide is released in the corpus cavernous body of the pe**is.

Mysterioustrip said...

I stumbled on your blog post on EXPLORING SEATTLE'S UNDERGROUND.
I have a thing for an awesome travel destination, so your post really caught my attention.
Website: Travel write for us

Adventure Bike Tours said...

Adventure Bike Tours Expedition the Best motor Bike Trip In All Over India, Nepal, Bhutan With Best offer visit Website For More Details.
Adventure Bike Tours / motor Bike Trip all India
Manali To Leh Bike Trip / Adventure Bike Tours
Chandigarh To Leh Road Trip / Adventure Bike Tours
Leh Ladakh Bike Trip from Delhi / Adventure Bike Tours
Spiti Valley Bike Trip /Adventure Bike Tours
Delhi To Jaipur Rajasthan Bike Tour / Adventure Bike Tours
Kathmandu To Pokhara Motor Bike Tour / Adventure Bike Tours
Bike On Rent In Delhi From Leh Ladakh Rajasthan Manali Hire Bike
Tours Packages For Foreigner
Motorcycle Tour In Himalaya Ladakh/ Adventure Bike Tours
Leh & Ladakh Himalaya Motor Bike Tour / Adventure Bike Tours
Delhi to Agra Rajasthan Motor Bike Tours / Adventure Bike Tours
Royal Rajasthan Motorcycle Tour Udaipur To Delhi / Adventure Bike Tours
Kathmandu to Mukitinath Nepal Bike Tour / Adventure Bike Tours
South India Motorcycle Tour from Coachin / Adventure Bike Tours
Siliguri To Bhutan Motor Bike Tour / Adventure Bike Tours