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Secret Guides Things To Do

Underground Seattle: Visit The Subterranean City Hidden Under Pioneer Square

By Emma Colosia

undderground room

Explore the underground pathways that were built in Seattle more than 120 years ago. 

A hidden gem for tourists that enjoy paranormal and unique experiences. Certainly one of the most unusual tourist attractions in Seattle is the Bill Spiedel underground tour, which visits a subterranean city built under the Pioneer Square neighborhood after the Great Fire of 1889.

A historic walk through these interconnecting tunnels will change your perception of Emerald City forever.

The story behind underground Seattle

The city’s first neighborhood hides the remnants of a fascinating underground world. Under restaurants and shops, you will find an entire network of subterranean hallways, corridors and basements. Buried for decades, these abandoned spaces have become a popular tourist attraction and a real-life history museum of Seattle’s past. 

The structures were constructed after the Great Seattle Fire on June 6th, 1889, a fire that destroyed more than 25 blocks of stores, homes and workshops. Soon after, city leaders decided that all new structures had to be built of stone and brick instead of wood and it was ruled that the streets would be raised 22 feet higher. New buildings made the ground level a basement and others simply left their businesses on the underground floors.

After fear that the bubonic plague could extend throughout the city in 1907, these underground locations were abandoned. However, some kept using them as secret establishments for speakeasies, opium dens and gambling.

A historian and columnist for the Seattle Times, Bill Spiedel, took notice of the subterranean ruins. He mounted a citizen campaign that restored some of the tunnels to their authentic state. Finally, in 1965, he began doing an Underground Tour for any tourists and locals that would like to time-travel to the 1900s.

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Where: 614 1st Avenue, in Pioneer Place Park, Pioneer Square, between Cherry and James Street.

Tour info: The tour is 75 minutes long, the underground can be rugged, so don’t hesitate on using comfortable shoes.

You can buy tickets online from Bill Spiedel’s official website and also by phone or on-site.

Featured image from Shutterstock.