Pioneer Square is Seattle's oldest neighborhood, and it wasn't always a pleasant place to visit. The Underground Tour ... More
Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
Pioneer Square is Seattle's oldest neighborhood, and it wasn't always a pleasant place to visit. The Underground Tour takes visitors around Pioneer Square above ground and also to a hidden Seattle that now lies underground. About 25 square blocks of Pioneer Square have hollow spaces under the sidewalks, thanks to peculiarities of the reconstruction after the great Seattle fire of 1889. Cash and traveler's checks only are accepted. ATM is on-site.
Shops, music, and even an aquarium.
You will never be sorry that you went under the streets of Seattle. A good time to visit is anytime as the weather is all the same under the street. Start at Pike Place Market and tour underground and come out on First Avenue with Pujet Sound in front of you.
After living in Seattle almost 20 years, I finally went through the underground tour in December of 2002. I found the history of Seattle really interesting, but I almost froze to death. Do yourself a favor and see it in the spring or summer. Also, it seemed as if we were sort of rushed through the tour (it might have been because of the cold) and I would have liked to have spent a little more time just looking around.
Had a blast walking under the sidewalks in the rubble. Reminded me of what Germany looked like after the war. Dark, dirty, and devoid of life. Great place to come if you're feeling happy. This will cure you.
Like many other cities built around the same time, the Seattle city planners didn't quite get it right the first time. After a disasterous fire with blessedly few human casualties, the city was rebuilt - and the street level ended up a full story higher than it had been.
The underground tour starts in Pioneer Square with a history lesson - a fascinating glimpse into the characters who were instrumental in the founding of the city, and moves outside and underground into some of the remaining original city, now covered over with present-day sidewalks.
The tour takes several hours, and tickets often sell out, so come early. Oh, and during the wet months it wouldn't be remiss to bring an umbrella - in Seattle it even rains underground. ;)
This is probably the most popular guided tour in town. It is a very interesting and informative and presented by tourguides with a great sense of humor throughout...which helps, because a lot of underground Seattle resembles trashed out streets of The Bronx!!
(For history lovers, of course, just being on the rubble-strewn sidewalks of pioneer-era Seattle is a thrill in itself!)
It is a fascinating story of how a small frontier town continuously remade itself on its way to becoming the world-class metropolis of today. (For those of you who don't know, Underground Seattle is the catacomb of streets and first floors of buildings from the late 1800's that were buried beneath an initial phase of a large-scale regrade of Seattle's famous steep hills. ) Just seeing this story online makes me want to return to Pioneer Square and get back on the Underground Tour!
This tour changes about every 6 months so even if you have been before, it is well worth another visit. It's a fun guided tour that explores the history and roots (literally!) of the Seattle that now stands. I suggest to all of my visitors from out of town to ensure this is on their list of things to do.
I truly hate guided tours. However, this is the one exception. First time, I was forced to go. Now every time I have guests in town, I actually join them on this tour. Every time I have gone, I have had a different tour leader. The dialogue and jokes are presented in a different order and style, but equally enjoyable. I am not sure what tour the other reviewers went on - but for 90 minutes or so, you will be entertained while given a brief dose of Seattle's history. A word of warning - tour is probably not for those who have a problem with fairly tight, enclosed areas. And the air quality - is definitely NOT the outdoors. Also, tour is probably best enjoyed by parties without children.
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