experiences

Beneath the Streets of Seattle

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Years ago I did an Underground Seattle tour, mostly because I didn’t see how Seattle could have an “underground world” with tunnels that close to the water. I loved it! So on a recent trip I decided to do it again so I could review it for this site. That’s when I discovered there’s now a second tour company, Beneath the Streets, so of course I had to try them so I could compare!

A quick intro to Seattle history — to address the sewage and flooding problems on the streets closest to the water, they decided to raise the street level one floor around the turn of the century. And eventually they added sidewalks to match the road which left the original first floor stores and sidewalks underground.

Underground seattle tour passage

Some still exist, and through these underground tours you can see some cool sites and learn a bit of Seattle’s history.

Beneath the Streets was founded by former employees of Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour and covers a different set of underground rooms and passageways. Since I’m one of those people who never met a locked door on a historical tour that I didn’t want to see behind, this was a bonus!

My first impression of the tour however, was not promising. They’re sharing space with Spooked Seattle, so I walked into a room filled with creepy and over-the-top death related scenes. Hmmmm.

beneath the streets seattle office

But once our tour guide Richard started, I knew my $15 ticket had a been a good choice. For about 5-10 minutes he filled us in on Seattle’s early history, interspersed with humor and clever jokes. I normally don’t care for obvious tour guide humor, but Richard’s over-the-top delivery still managed a subtlety I could appreciate. 🙂

Our first stop was directly off the office, we got to see our first bricked up passage and original storefront windows.

underground seattle tour storefront

From there we headed out to Pioneer Square for another quite humorous history lesson before heading to our next stop under the J&M cafe.  There we got to see admission signs for a former speakeasy and even old wallpaper from long ago.

Underground seattle tour passage entrance

Underground seattle tour wallpaper

Underground seattle tour speakeasy entrance

From there we headed to the Seattle Comedy Underground for more passages and an a truly beautiful example of skylights.

Street view of skylight

Street view of skylight

Prism skylight from underneath

Prism skylight from underneath

Underground seattle tour underground comedy

So being completely honest, I liked the passages seen on Underground Seattle more — they actually have some connecting rooms which adds to the experience — but I preferred the narration and atmosphere of Beneath the Streets and they’re working on adding more passages.

A slightly crazed looking me & Richard

A slightly crazed looking me & Richard

They’re cheaper, $15 vs $19, and have much smaller group sizes which makes it easier to hear and ask questions. And since most of their tour guides have been leading underground tours for 7+ years, you get better information and enthusiasm.

If you have the time and the money and geek out over things like this (like I do), I would suggest taking both!

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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