The Fascinating History Of Seattle’s Famous Underground Tunnels

Under the streets of Pioneer Square, Seattle Underground, a network of underground corridors and basements. You can see the ruins of shops, hotels, houses still standing. These spaces, after decades have become a history museum.

The “Seattle Underground” as seen on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour— the facade is seen here was at street level in the mid-1800s. Author: Postdlf CC BY-SA 3.0

Before these structures were on the ground floor and all the buildings were made of wood. In 1889, a big fire occurred because an employee of the carpentry workshop had forgotten the glue that he was heating on a gasoline fire. The fire spread directly to the covered ground, John the employee tried to extinguish the fire with water which made the situation worse.

The Seattle Underground Tour takes tourists into the forgotten world of Seattle as it was in 1900. Although it is pretty commercial, it is worth the hour, if one has the time. Author: Rennett Stowe CC BY 2.0

Everyone was able to get out of the building, but the fire was out of control. When it was finally extinguished around 3 a.m., the damage was massive, destroying everything in its path. The losses were immense and almost the entire center of the city was wiped out as more than 5,000 people lost their jobs.

A view from the Seattle Underground looking upwards at the glass skywalks built above the previous street level which supports the current sidewalk. Author: Mark Hursh CC BY-SA 3.0

The underground includes many basements left to rot, it remained in this state, abandoned until 1950. Until the day when Bill Speidel, historian and columnist, created the “Bill Speidel” Underground Tour” because for him these underground ruins could
be profitable.

Store in ruins. Author: Ronincmc CC BY-SA 4.0

He started doing tours for visitors who wanted to see the place. The place was becoming more and more popular with tourists, the structures were renovated making the place attractive.

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