Seattle, WA – What lies beneath

Pookaverse took Seattle’s Underground Tour on Sunday 7th October. There is a lot of information on this fascinating subject so rather than spending a lot of time paraphrasing, here is a brief summary based on some of the anecdotes introduced by the guide on this hour long tour that visited three separate sites in Pioneer Square, Seattle.

…at the appointed time the Eloi would descend into the realm of their Lords and Masters. The Morlocks

The Great Seattle Fire of June 6 1889 razed Central Seattle (approximately 31 blocks) to the ground.

Prior to this catastrophe, the citizens of Seattle were experiencing unsanitary conditions caused by building the city on filled-in flood plains were making life intolerable. Gravity-assisted flushing toilets (pioneered as a gentrified, commercial enterprise but not invented) by Thomas Crapper were backing up at high tide leading to explosive feedback in private and communal ‘Crappers’ dotted along Puget Sound.

Note the original skylight above which the people of modern Seattle go about their business….which usually finds its way back down here again shortly afterwards.

After some discussion, the decision-makers opted to build a new Seattle over the top of the previous once sewage-strewn roads.

This led to a situation where the ‘1st floor’ (there is no concept of ground floor in the USA) were raised by 12 feet and in some places 30 feet.

Where the original hotel once stood…at the level it once stood up in…

They did not however raise the sidewalks including the shops, banks, communal gravity-assisted flushing toilet, hotels, taverns and brothels until two years later.

This led to a situation where crossing the road for a loaf of bread and and some naughtiness was a relatively major undertaking.

…the source of the spice…an original cistern set six feet above ground-level to avoid the explosive backfill of the good ‘ole days…

It involved first ascending the ladder on your side of the street, crossing the street midst horse and carriages desperately trying not to fall over the edge to death or serious injury.

And then descending a second ladder on the other side of the road to squeeze your buns/deposit a small sum/park your breakfast/slip into the arms of morpheus/drink your pipette of 140% proof liquor/put on or take off your dress to commit your act of naughtiness. And then. Assuming all went well.

You then repeated the same endeavour to cross back to the right or wrong side of the tracks. Can you imagine? What about the rats? Imagine doing all that in a long skirt and petticoats?  And maintaining your modesty? It’s difficult enough walking down in that lot to the 24-hr Garage to try and get off with the cashier, never mind hurdling your……I digress

Floor meet the ceiling…Ceiling meet the floor…Again

Pookaverse apologises in advance that there are no specific details of where each underground site is and what, in most cases, you are looking at.

All these images were taken in low-light situations so in some cases are a little blurred in others unintelligible. There are better images available elsewhere on the internet, so why not check them out

Note to Self: I must not make the following statement at the top of my voice on an underground tour: “THEERREEE’S A MMMOOORRRLOCCCCKKKK. BEEEEEHHHIIINNDD UUUSSS…..AANNNDD IITTTSSS GGGGOOTTTT AAAAA BBBIIGGGG CCCCOOOOOCCCCKKKK!!!”

If you visit Seattle, the tour is recommended. Pookaverse chose Shane as the tour guide by hanging back and waiting for his line – there were approximately 90 people on the tour with 4 tour groups.

The last lift left below street-level….It only goes to the Basement.

He is the hoom in the blue denim jacket, has been guiding visitors on the tour for the longest and is an Elvis impersonator in his spare-time.

If you are ever on this side of the world, then it is an interesting hour. And believe it or not,  the rats stayed away. After all, they are supposed to possess intelligence.


2 Responses to “Seattle, WA – What lies beneath”

  1. jose Says:

    What a fascinating tour, loved the humour in your commentary, photos really brought it to life

  2. Rach Says:

    Awww I’m so glad that you did the tour for me – it’s always fascinated me since reading Kat Richardsons Greywalker Series of Books. Fab commentary as always! Love you xxx

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