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Pioneer Building—Where the Underground Tour Begins
History, Hauntings, Antiques, and Architecture
Seattle's Underground Tour is interesting to the antiquer from several perspectives. The old photos, tales of another era and a few interesting old things that crop up along the three-part tour are sure to delight. But there's also the architecture of the area where the tour originates, and a good shopping spot right next door that makes it appealing. Then you have the tales of hauntings, and who doesn't love a good ghost story? I may have even captured a ghostly orb in one of my photos. You'll have to be the judge!
The Pioneer Building located in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture.
This building, along with other historic structures in the area, was in danger of being torn down in the 1970s. A campaign to raise money for historic preservation was mounted by giving tours of the hidden underground snaking beneath the streets, and that's how the Seattle Underground Tour began.Continue to 2 of 16 below.
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Our Seattle Underground Tour Guide
All of the tour guides employed by the Seattle Underground Tour are local actors, which makes their presentations more lively and entertaining.
Our tour began by heading down into a dank space. Photographs like the one shown behind our guide illustrated what Seattle was like back when the underground, for better or worse, came about.Continue to 3 of 16 below.
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Seattle Street Photo Pre-1900
This photo shows what Seattle looked like before the underground.
When the underground came about, it was a raising of the streets to thwart the daily tidal surge off Puget Sound that was flooding the city. Everything imaginable was used as a landfill including trash, broken wagon wheels and horse remains. When the project was finished, the first floor of this building was underground but still operable. A quite amazing feat.Continue to 4 of 16 below.
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Mr. Nordstrom and His First Store
This photo shows the first Nordstrom store in downtown Seattle.
Mr. Nordstrom's shoe selling venture was very successful, needless to say, and eventually led to the booming empire we know today.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
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"Crapper" as Seen on Seattle Underground Tour
This beautiful old toilet that could be appreciated by any antiquer was on the tour for a reason.
One of the stories told about early Seattle on the tour revolves around the town ordering its first batch of indoor toilets, also known as "crappers" because they were invented by Thomas Crapper of England. All was well until the town realized the raw sewerage pumped down to the beach wasn't such a good idea because of the tides and all. Enough said.Continue to 6 of 16 below.
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Old Skylight in Walkway as Seen from Seattle Underground Tour
These skylights were once common in Seattle sidewalks. Now only a few remain.
This skylight was seen from below the street level with pedestrians walking over. It was located just outside the entrance to the old bank building we were about to enter at the underground level.Continue to 7 of 16 below.
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Exterior View of Bank Building on Underground Tour
The first floor of this old bank building is on the Seattle Underground Tour.Continue to 8 of 16 below.
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Entrance to Bank Vault
This old bank vault has a few secrets hiding within.
Sure it's interesting looking with the iron doors, but could it be haunted? Our underground tour guide said there are reports of apparitions seen within, cold spots here and even ghostly orbs showing up in photographs. What happened when I took a photo within? Check out the next photo to see.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
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Inside the "Haunted" Vault on Seattle Underground Tour
Look at the bottom right corner of this photo and see what you think...is it a ghostly orb? None of the other photos I took that day had any similar effects.
While I was skeptical about the haunting of this old bank vault as mentioned by our Seattle Underground Tour guide, it's very curious that an orb happened to show up when I downloaded my digital images.Continue to 10 of 16 below.
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Skylight Seen at Street Level
We viewed it from below and then saw it from above.
When we came above ground after the first leg of our tour, we walked past the skylight we'd just seen below. The purple glass was originally clear, as we find with many pieces of antique glass and old bottles that are exposed to sunlight for years and years. Yes, they do get sunlight in Seattle from time to time!Continue to 11 of 16 below.
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Underground in an Old Seattle Hotel
Our tour guide used photos to help us understand where we were on the tour, this one depicts an old hotel across the street from Pioneer Square.Continue to 12 of 16 below.
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Original Wallpaper on Wall in Undgerground Hotel
It was interesting to see that this old wallpaper was still intact more than 100 years later inside an old hotel on the Seattle Underground Tour. A few other tattered furnishings were still there as well, but it wasn't clear whether or not those were added for effect or abandoned after the hotel was closed.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
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Seattle's Antique Water System
This unique piece of Seattle history was seen on the last leg of our tour beneath the Pioneer Building where we began.Continue to 14 of 16 below.
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Pioneer Square Antique Mall
This mall offers a wide variety of quality antiques, and it's adjacent to the Seattle Underground Tour ticket office.
We purchased our tickets for the next tour and then spent our waiting time browsing the antique mall. The clerks held my purchases until we came back from the tour, of course, which I greatly appreciated.Continue to 15 of 16 below.
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Seattle Underground Museum
At the end of the tour, we entered a small museum filled with period artifacts and objects indicative of the period. This dress was a reminder that women climbing up and down ladders navigating the streets as the underground was being constructed weren't exactly dressed appropriately for their tasks. This is especially true when their arms were filled with purchases of the day.Continue to 16 of 16 below.
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Life Before Starbuck's and Microsoft
This old coffee server was one of the objects on display reminding us of a time prior to Starbuck's and Microsoft. A proper end to an interesting tour in Seattle's historic center!