Sunday, November 16, 2008

Underground Seattle

I first read about the Seattle Underground in one of Ridley Pearson's books. Not sure which one, but when I mentioned it to Delaney this summer, he wanted to tour it. So I checked around, and sure enough, there's a tour company. So after the EMP museum and the Pacific Science Museum, both hits with Delaney, we headed out for the last tour of the night.

Once again, struggling through the city streets (lots of one-ways here), but we made it and toured 3 or 4 sections of the Seattle Underground. It's a neat story, and I wasn't sure how it happened, but the tour explained things. There was a fire in the late 1800s and most of Seattle burned. Since there were tremendous mud issues with the road (because of the level), they decided to raise it in some sections of downtown.

Merchants were rebuilding after the fire, but the road was being raised, so they actually built these 10-12ft retaining walls that would line the road. So they were built, essentially surrounding city blocks , creating this moat. Ladders were placed at the corners so people could get up and down, and using water sluicing, mud was flowed down the hill to fill in the roads with dirt. Eventually bricked Roman arches were used to create the sidewalks at the main levels and they were cemented over. The first floor of these buildings became basements, and the sidewalks are hollow, essentially a sidewalk over a sidewalk.

Very cool. Delaney got a little nervous in places, though it was well lit and the guide was funny, but he enjoyed it. Pizza for dinner in our room and he crashed early, not surprising after a busy day of tourism.

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