Welcome to the next installment of our Seattle Adventures series! To see the main page with links to all of the installments, go here!
The Seattle Underground is a network of underground passageways and basements in downtown Seattle that was ground level at the city’s origin in the mid-19th century. After the streets were elevated after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, these spaces fell into disuse, but have become a tourist attraction in recent decades. Many years ago, Bill Speidel and his wife had the brilliant idea to create an underground tour of these areas, paying rent to the building owners above for the privilege to do so.
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is the main tour offered by the company and is a leisurely, guided walking tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets. As you roam the subterranean passages that once were the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle, the guides ” regale you with the stories our pioneers didn’t want you to hear.”
The tour begins inside Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1890s saloon, then through historic Pioneer Square to three different sections of Underground—about three blocks in all.
However, we opted for the Underworld Tour, which tours the same areas, but is an adult-oriented guided tour replete with the tales of graft, opium, sex, debauchery and Red Light district shenanigans. Risque! And it ends with a cocktail…
We arrived at the tour starting location in downtown Seattle.
We all really enjoyed the tour. The tour guide was interesting and entertaining and we never felt bored. The group was full, but we didn’t feel crowded and it still felt like an intimate experience. Perhaps they keep it that way with the Underworld tour and I am not sure how different the Underground tour is in terms of of the crowd, since it is definitely more popular.
While some of the underground areas have been “refurbished” in order to be safe for pedestrians and to benefit the building owners above (I think I remember the guide saying that one building even opened up a club!), most of the areas seen on the tour remain in the exact condition they were found in.
It really was like stepping back in time.
I liked how it was basically the Underground Tour with some risque information thrown in. One fact that stuck out and I still remember is how women used to put animal fat in their hair to improve its appearance and as a rain repellant. Mmmm, I bet that smelled lovely.
One of the last stops in our tour was this building with “1889” on it, meaning it was quickly built after the fire. While I don’t exactly remember the story, the guide told us about some children dying up there that now haunt the upstairs floor, which remains abandoned. I liked the added doses of paranormal stories, and after a quick visit to their website, I see that they now offer full Paranormal tours. That would be fun!
After the tour, we enjoyed our complimentary drink at the full service bar.
I hope you enjoyed “touring” underground Seattle with us today! Stay tuned for more installments of our Seattle Adventures, and don’t forget you can go to the main page to see all the posts.