Seattle has an underground? That’s what I thought when I saw the ad for this quirky tour. I soon found out that the first floors of many of Seattle’s building are underground because the buildings and roads were built below sea level. They kept having (obvious) problems with sewage and water flooding the streets, so after a fire destroyed the settlement in the late 1880s, they raised the streets, leaving some bottom level floors of the buildings underground. It's definitely a tourist activity, but you get a good bit of history about Seattle with a dose of humor and a different perspective. Bill Speidel wrote the book “Sons of the Profits,” which is said to be the basis for the tour, which started in the 1980s. It’s his humor that is infused throughout the tour, mostly poking fun at the mentality at the people who settled the area. Many of the tour guides are local actors supplementing their incomes.
It is dusty in the underground; this isn’t a museum. The underground is condemned and you can only go there through this tour. There’s quite a bit of walking/standing, so wear comfortable shoes. Some of the stairways leading to the underground are steep and there are some close quarters, but as someone who is claustrophobic, I didn’t have a problem at all. The tour ends in Rogue’s Gallery, where there are displays and, of course, a gift shop. You can only get to the gift shop by taking the tour. The Underground Tour is located on Occidental Square in the Pioneer Square area, which is the oldest part of Seattle. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and students, and $5 for children. The tour doesn’t take reservations, so it’s suggested that you arrive 30 minutes early to secure your spot. On a Friday at 11am there was a pretty good group assembled. Don’t underestimate the popularity of this tour. Private tours are available by request. To get there from the downtown area, head down to Alaskan Way (the last street before you get to the water) and find the trolley. Or just walk and enjoy the scenery.