Underground in Seattle

Paris and Rome have their catacombs, but Seattle has its underground. The burgeoning town was started on tide flats in what is now the Pioneer Square area. The location caused many tide-related problems, from mucky streets to sewage geysering toilets. All this was solved when the Great Fire leveled the city.


The city learned from its mistakes. After the fire, it required all new buildings to be made of masonry, not wood. They also regraded the streets to be two stories hire, thus getting rid of the tide-related issues. The building owners had to contend with the first floor becoming the basement once the regrade was complete. When the sidewalks were raised to the new street level, this left a network of tunnels under the Main Street. Today, tourists can walk through a small portion while hearing the history of Seattle back in the wild days.


Those walking on the current street will notice that portions of the sidewalk have glass. These sections provide light to the underground tunnels. Much of the old glass has been replaced with newer, clearer glass, but some of the old remains. You can tell old from new by the purple color of the old glass. If you visit Seattle, the Underground Tour is a must-do.

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