Seattle Underground Tour

The Seattle Underground Tour is one of the most popular walking tours of the city. This historic three-block stroll takes guests on an entertaining, subterranean journey down to the original roadways and passages of early nineteenth-century Seattle. Tour guests will learn about the Great Fire of 1889, the Yukon Gold Rush, the city's seawalls and the restoration of Pioneer Square as a registered Historic District.

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour was a result of one Seattle man's quest for historic preservation. After the destruction of the Great Fire of 1889, the city made the decision to build seawalls and rebuild the city higher to combat frequent tideland flooding, making the modern-day city of Seattle two stories higher than its original streets. In the mid-twentieth century, Bill Speidel's efforts to restore and preserve the decaying Pioneer Square neighborhood uncovered these hidden streets, walkways, and storefronts beneath the existing city. Once this former newspaper reporter announced his findings to the press in 1965, people from Seattle and beyond flocked to see the sights for themselves. The Seattle Underground Tour has been entertaining and educating visitors to Seattle ever since.

While only a small portion of the Seattle Underground is considered safe enough for the public tour, this 90-minute tour offers patrons many fascinating remnants of history, including a meat market, a hotel, a saloon, the teller's cage of a bank, a turn of the century ice chest, and an old wash basin suspended eight feet above the walkway. Signs and illustrations are posted to help viewers decipher the items and buildings. For the adult crowd, Bill Speidel also offers an Underworld Tour, delving into the Underground's association with drugs, prostitution, and debauchery. The Underworld Tour includes a cocktail afterward.

Tickets for the Seattle Underground Tour can be purchased online with a credit/debit card up to twelve hours beforehand. Tickets purchased at the ticket booth must be paid for with cash. The tour company advises visitors to arrive thirty minutes before the tour begins, and be prepared to climb stairs and be on your feet for the duration of the 90-minute tour. A tour guide will be on hand to keep you informed and entertained. Afterward, consider using your ticket at the Smith Tower for a view of the city from above—it will earn you a discounted ticket to the Observation Deck.

Image: Crashworks (flickr)

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