Touristing Seattle

The Seattle Underground tour provides a fascinating glimpse into the waterlogged, muddy and slightly sordid history of the city.

The city was initially built on the edge of a natural harbour, at the foot of steep mountains and below the high tide line, genius thinking I’m sure you’ll agree. Following a devastating fire, the city was re-built: gradually raising the buildings out of the water and decreasing the steep gradient of the downtown area whilst allowing business to continue as normal.

What this means is that just by stepping through an unassuming door and down a single flight of stairs you can enter an underground world, immediately becoming oblivious to the people walking along the pavement just above your head.

Once underground you can see the brickwork that creates the underside of the pavement, and the supporting beams that stop the pavements caving in. Also visible are the huge damn walls that keep the water back and reduce the gradient of the streets to an optimum 18 degrees.

The underground world is frequently used as a set for film crews and after a large earthquake in the mid 20th century it provided a rubbish dump for old signs so it is difficult to date much of the ephemera that is propped up against the walls.

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