Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is an entertaining walk through Seattle’s origins at Pioneer Square. The tour is named for Bill Speidel, a journalist and preservationist who started the tours in 1965. He helped save the Pioneer Square historic district from demolition. It costs US$22 for an adult ticket (as of January 2018) and lasts about 75 minutes.
Tours begin in the basement of a building on Pioneer Square where a guide tells you how Seattle was founded and about the three most important men during the city’s beginnings. The guide talks about the settling of the Pioneer Square area in 1852, problems with tides and plumbing, and the giant hill that once looked down on the square.
From there, you walk up to street level to get to the first tunnel, where you hear some interesting stories about how the city rebuilt after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 – 22 feet above the previous level. Probably the biggest highlight is a historic bank teller window that is said to be haunted.
After going back above ground, you can see a skylight put into the modern sidewalks to let natural light. You’re then escorted back down another tunnel to a large room with some pictures of old Seattle before the fire.
Also in that room is a cutout that opens into a bathroom from old Seattle. Inside is the original toilet and sink.
Overall, we really enjoyed the tour. It added a lot to our time in the city and we learned a lot of history in a fun way. You have to use your imagination down there, but the guide’s humorous takes on history are enough to make it worthwhile. The company also offers an adults only Underworld Tour through the former Red Light District and the Underground Paranormal Experience.