Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Seattle's Underground...

We spent last weekend in Seattle... what an interesting history that city has. I have been there several times, but had no idea they had such a unique story to tell about the making of the city.

To get a very different presentation of the happenings in Seattle in the late 1800s, we took part in the "Underground" tour. Here is the link.... Bill Speidel's Underground Tour.

I wanted to share a few of the photos I took on the tour, along with a brief history of the area that is called "Pioneer Square."

Pioneer Square, before the fire of 1889. The fire was started in a carpenter's shop by a young apprentice named Jon Back. He was instructed to heat some glue, which boiled over and started some wood chips on fire. The fire burned the shop, along with 32 blocks of the city.

After the "Great Seattle Fire" the town was devastated, but it was a miracle that nobody died. They ended up seeing it as a blessing because they could rebuild their city the second time, and do it right this time. The first time the city was built, there were numerous flaws in the planning.

Notice how the train tracks are buckled from the heat of the fire.

Inside the old Saloon where the tour started.

Saloon floor.

The sidewalks in the "Underground" were at the original ground level. When the city scape changed after the fire, the shop keepers didn't want to lose business, so they rebuilt right where they stores had been. Then the city planners decided to raise the streets due to drainage issues, the stores stayed in operation with the sidewalks a level down.

For 5 years the sidewalks were all a level below the streets. The merchants didn't want to lose out on business, so ladders were placed at each street corner on all 32 blocks that were destroyed in the fire. The roads had been built up a level, so horses and traffic were up there, and if you wanted to get to the store front, you had to climb down the ladder. After 5 years, they covered over the sidewalks and basically closed the underground until the 50s when Bill Spiedel opened it as a tour, in an attempt to save the old town part of Seattle. It worked, the old architecture was saved and a great historical tour was created.

Main floor shop windows, now sitting under the Seattle's sidewalks.

Stairs that used to go from main floor to second floor, now go from underground to first floor. Crazy!!

What soon happened was that crime escalated in the Underground tunnels, and since it was around the time of the gold rush, people were being mugged and killed in the underground when they came back from prospecting, and they would be on their way to spend $ in the saloon... people would attack and rob them, and sometimes they'd end up dead. So, the Underground bank started staying open 24hours so the men could deposit their money/gold as soon as they got to town. This was the Northwest's first ATM machine :)

I'm not going to get into the story about Mr. Crapper... (there really was a man with that name associated with Seattle's toilets - I'm not being vulgar!) take the tour and you will get the full story - and more!

In the late 1800s, I would have been standing on the sidewalk here, with open sky above me... now, it is a full level underground.

When the sidewalks were made at the new ground level, they put these light grates in so the underground could still have daylight, and business could continue in the underground shops.

The new first floor level... it was so bizarre to tour underground and then walk the new sidewalks, knowing that you are actually now walking at the second floor level.


Katie and Scott said...

We've done that tour and were really impressed too, Sarah. You have great photos of your experience!

Alexa said...

It's pretty cool isn't it... Andy and I went at Christmas and that was the only thing on our we-HAVE-to-do list

Anonymous said...

Dad said that you could go there
and be a tour guide...We liked
your relating of it to us. g