Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
Seattle Attractions--Pioneer Square Tours
Navigating the Underground Tour passages--stock photo furnished by the Underground Tour
|Brief summary of the Tour|
|Description of the Tour|
|Who should go on the Tour|
|Who should not go on the Tour|
|When is it offered|
|Where is it|
|Tour web site|
|Tour phone number|
Summary of the Tour
This is a fun 90-minute excursion into the history of the Pioneer Square District and Seattle's early days. This is certainly recommended for Seattleites, experienced Seattle visitors, and anyone that is visiting Seattle for several days. The Pioneer Square District has a colorful past and the Tour guide gets you well acquainted with some of Seattle's history. Skip the Tour if you are visiting Seattle just for a day or two.
There is an adult-oriented tour for anyone 21 and older offered at night. Here is what the Tour's web site says about this tour.
"Join us in an adult-oriented guided tour of Seattle's underground Underworld replete with the tales of graft, opium, sex, debauchery and Red Light district shenanigans that made Seattle what it is today"
Brief Description of the Tour
The Tour is a journey into the early days of Seattle. You learn a lot about the beginnings of Seattle, especially as it boomed with the Klondike Gold Rush. The Guide acquaints with some of the civic challenges that faced this city on the waterfront. You learn little tidbits such as in the days of dirt roads, you could develop massive potholes 18 feet wide and eight feet deep! Amazing as it sounds, some of the streets were 35 feet higher than their sidewalks!
The Tour takes you into the actual underground that used to be the main street level for Seattle in its early days. You literally walk through Seattle's sediment on the Tour.
One of Biill Speidel's original tour signs pointing out Seattle's first water system
You learn a lot about Wild West characters such as Henry Yesler and Doc Maynard as well as the 2,500 "seamstresses" that worked in houses of ill-repute. The Guide milks the crowd with a humorous story of the first toilets in the city and how they malfunctioned at high tide.
Students of the Old West know that many of the apparently exaggerated tales were actually true and in the case of Seattle, the truth was quite colorful.
Artifacts on the tour--stock photo by Robert De Giulio for the Underground Tour. Photo furnished courtesy of the Underground Tour
Your Tour guide is the rock star of the Tour. Our guide Terrilyn Johnson was great. She really knew how to work a crowd. She was funny, knew how to deliver punch lines, and kept us engaged. Terrilyn told us that she is a former public school teacher and she was used to dealing with an audience. She has been a guide for 14 years and she loves her job.
The Tour winds up with in a small, nice museum and a well-stocked gift shop.
Terrilyn Johnson, our fantastic Tour guide holding a book about Seattle's sordid past
Who Should Go on the Tour
For someone visiting Seattle for a few days and who enjoys history, I would recommend the Tour. It is fun and is a nice dose of Old West history as it was played out around and underground in Seattle.
Old gorgeous sidewalk skylight on First Avenue as seen on the Tour
Who should not go on the Tour
I would not recommend the Tour if you only have a day or two in Seattle. I also would not recommend it if you don't care for history because the entire tour discusses the early days of Seattle. You either like or don't like history and use this as your litmus test for deciding whether or not to take the Tour. I love Seattle, the Pioneer Square District, and Old West history, and the tour was perfect for me.
You can take young children on the tour but they would probably get bored since there is a lot of standing around in not well-lighted areas.
The Tour is definitely off limits for anyone that has trouble walking. Even sure-footed patrons need to watch the uneven floors. High heels would make walking difficult on the Tour.
When is it offered?
The Tour is offered daily except for Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. Several tours are offered each day and they offer nine tours a day in the summer. The maximum group size for one Guide is 45 people and that works because you can always see and hear what the Guide is talking about.
On a rainy day, I would bring an umbrella because you do have to walk on the streets between some of the presentations.
The ticket office is located in the Pioneer Building adjacent to Pioneer Square Park. The address is 608 First Avenue between Yesler Way and Cherry Street. The tour starts at Doc Maynard's bar adjacent to the ticket office and it ends up in the gift shop underneath the ticket office.
The Main Ticket Office in the Pioneer Building and the starting point for the Underground Tour
What are ticket prices?
Please click here to go to the Tour's web site for current pricing.
Please click here to go to the Tour's web site.
The phone number for the Tour is (206) 682-4646.