I have always wanted to take the Seattle Underground Tour-it just sounded mysterious and unique. So, FINALLY, after living here for three years (except for our last year in China), we finally acted on a winter special on GroupOn to take to the subterranean underbelly of Seattle and experience it for ourselves.
There are four different Underground Tours in Seattle but for this outing we chose the History Tour during the day with Beneath The Streets, http://www.beneath-the-streets.com. There are others including a night ghost tour and less educational ones but hey, when the GroupOn presents a screaming deal, who am I to say “No”. So with our intrepid guide, Emily, educating us and making us laugh along the way, I learned more in one hour about Seattle history than I had ever imagined. Sure, I vaguely knew about the Gold Rush but didn’t realize that it was the reason for Seattle’s birth and existence. History was not my best subject in school and I’m an idiot when it comes to dates and major events in all history, foreign and domestic, but this tour I enjoyed when not dodging rats.
Yes, when you are navigating the underground beneath the streets of Seattle within cavernous spaces that have never been cleaned out from the roaring 1920’s saloon days and prior, you have entered Rat Heaven. Emily warned us in a joking way that we might see “robot” rats and that the huge rat traps we saw were just props but we all knew Emily was preparing us for the real deal. Sure enough, halfway into a large tunnel, the biggest rat (really a small pony) scuttled across the floor in front of our groups and the screaming began. Get out the saddle because Mr. Rat’s tail was as long as our puppy Thor’s entire body. All I can say is that the restaurants in the neighborhood must cook some seriously fattening food because Mr. Rat didn’t have any ribs showing–he was well fed.
But, enough of the rodent diversion and back to the tour–due to all kinds of issues with the water table being where the founding fathers of Seattle wanted to build the port city, they raised their streets, leaving the lower sidewalks intact with ladders to climb down into them until the sidewalks also had to move to higher ground due to more people dying from falling into them than the great fire that leveled the earlier downtown area. Oops–watch where you step! I’m shocked no savvy developer has bought these underground spaces to make them into clubs and trendy cocktail bars but I’m sure they will soon. We did end our tour in the Comedy Underground space, which we will have to check out next. Pioneer Square, where the tunnels are located, is getting gentrified with oh so trendy food choices and loft apartments. We actually thought about moving to this area but it’s not quite living friendly yet with groceries and such. It needs to evolve a little more before I’ll move here. Still, if you want to experience Seattle history and enjoy a truly urban environment, this is the place to be on a sunny Seattle day.