Destinations, Events

Tour Underground Seattle

November 14, 2014 by

Seattle Underground2

The Underground Seattle Tour is a relaxed guided tour that takes visitors beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets to the remains of the original downtown Seattle.

Here, guests have the opportunity to hear stories of the pioneers of this great city as guides offer interesting vignettes of history with a twist of humor.

Great Seattle Fire

Great Seattle Fire

The Great Seattle Fire

In June of 1889, a young Swedish carpenter’s apprentice allowed his glue to boil over onto wood chips. The resulting fire, fueled by sawdust in the streets and ticky-tacky buildings on stilts, tore through downtown and destroyed 25 blocks of the central business district.

However, the fire was a blessing in disguise. Seattle rid itself of 30 years of ramshackle construction and gained 17,000 new residents, and unintentionally the “Underground” was formed.


About Underground Seattle Tour

Today, what is referred to as “Underground Seattle” is a network of underground passageways and basements that were once ground level in the mid-19th century. After the fire, new streets were elevated and this part of old town fell into disuse and was more or less forgotten, until a man by the name of Bill Speidel fought to save the historical site in the 1950s.

The Underground Seattle Tour starts inside a restored 1890s saloon by the name of Doc Maynard’s Public House. Here tour guides deliver a brief introduction before leading groups through the historic Pioneer Square which includes about three blocks.

The tour concludes in Rogues Gallery, the Underground Tour gift shop, but it’s not an ordinary gift shop as it also features historic displays that complement the history shared on the tour. For instance, those on the tour will learn about the advent of a new device introduced at the White House in 1851. It was called a “water closet.”

Tour participants also learn about how Seattle ordered its first batch of these indoor toilets known as the “crappers” and how they contributed to the city’s early history twice a day¬†when the tides rolled in and the sewers flowed backwards. The fancy flush toilets were transformed into fountains of filth.

For those on the tour, the history is made all the more real as they have the opportunity to see an original Crapper toilet imported from England.

Tours are a relaxing walking event with schedules that vary depending on the time of year. It an interesting opportunity to learn history. Visit their website for tour availability and other details.

Photo credits: pentaboxes, wikipedia, Karen Neoah, Karen Neoah

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1 comment

  1. Penny W. says:

    Great that there is an underground tour in Seattle so visitors can still explore without getting caught in the constant rain there!

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