In 1889, the city of Seattle experienced a fire raging through its streets.
As many of the buildings were built of wood at the time, whole neighbourhoods around the business district ended up being destroyed.
Reports from the time lay the blame with a careless worker heating glue over a gas fire. The wooden furnishings inside the cabinetry shop caught fire and quickly spread.
Due to the fact the city was largely founded on the riches of the logging industry, and that same wood was used to build the city, little survived the flames that destroyed 25 blocks in total.
After the fire new building ordinances required building from stone and brick. Furthermore, the city decided to raise the streets out of the swampy grounds.
This meant that some shops and businesses that either survived the flames or had already been rebuilt, were faced with the prospect of their first and sometimes second stories being blocked in by concrete walls, with the new street level being several feet above.
In the 1950’s Seattle local Bill Speidel started a campaign to save some of these forgotten areas of the early city, (much of which was concentrated around the Pioneer Square area).
The idea of the underground city took hold, and by 1965 Bill was giving guided tours.
These tours still exist today. Visitors can walking beneath Seattle’s sidewalks, exploring the subterranean passages that once made up the city.
Three blocks of the underground are on accessible to tourists, including an old saloon, shopfronts, and a hotel.
A unique city experience if ever there was one.