After Seattle's Great Fire of 1889, the city mandated buildings to be built of brick instead of wood. In addition to this, the ground level was raised to resolve the city's flooding and sewer problems. The area around Pioneer Square, the heart of Seattle, was simply raised up one floor. Windows became doors and the city's landscape was changed forever. The deepest part of this labyrinth is about thirty-five feet below the street, near modern-day Chinatown. The closer to the waterfront you get, the lower the gap. Considering that this peculiar part of Seattle's history dates back to the 1890's, the underground is very well preserved. The hour and a half long walking tour is informative about the background and history of Seattle, while being non-strenuous enough for the whole family to enjoy. This runs year-round, so even a trip during the city's mild winter can include the tour. The Underground Tour is definitely one of the many highlights this city has to offer.
The Underground Tour was inspired by eccentric journalist Bill Speidel, who lived for writing about the good old days of this prospering western settlement. He led the first public tour of the underground in 1965 after publishing a small article in his column. In addition to working for the Seattle Times, he researched many parts of the city's history that some would rather have been overlooked. Brothels, speak easies, moon shiners, opium dens and shady political dealings were all involved in the underground at some point. Information of this made its way into one of Mr. Speidel's many books and is also covered in the tour.
Taking this walking tour is a great addition to visiting Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Seahawk's Stadium, Puget Sound, Mount Rainer or any other attractions in the Seattle area. The tour's office can be reached at (206) 682-4646 or check out their website for ticket prices, information and tour schedules. http://www.undergroundtour.com/