It’s funny how when one lives in a city, aside from the initial exploration when you relocate, one more often than not doesn’t delve further to find out the history or more information about it.
As you well know, I adore Seattle. I have never lived in a city with greater quirks than this one. Every corner you turn there’s a new mural, a hidden sculpture, or unusual treasure that sets it apart from anywhere else and makes me love it even more. How many cities do you know that has a troll living under a bridge?!
This weekend we just had a family member who visited who has never been to Seattle before. This is always great fun as the choice of activities here is endless, particularly when the weather is good. One of the things we chose to do was the Underground Tour. It’s not an average weekend as errands and relaxation tend normally to take over in order to recharge and prepare for the forthcoming week.
I love the history of Seattle so the Underground Tour was just fantastic.
In 1889 a fire ripped through Seattle courtesy of a spilled glue pot. With the locals laughing at the voluntary firefighters battling to put out the fire, they jeered and shouted that they could do a far better job. Unsurprisingly, the firefighters up and left leaving the city to burn to cinders. Bearing in mind that a lot of the roads were predominantly sawdust, all in all about twenty-five blocks disappeared.
After this, they decided to rebuild the town about eight feet higher than the original sidewalk. The originals were still to be used but naturally this caused havoc every now and again when people (drunk or otherwise) and horses were unfortunate enough to fall down into them. The higher rebuild was done in part to avoid the mud as well as goodness knows what else that was to be found down there. So in short, they built on top of the original Seattle.
On the tour, we got to explore the remaining underground passages that still lurk beneath the current walkways. To see remnants of the ‘old Seattle’ including: original hotel staircases, the windows and door frames of shops, old furniture and there was writing from a butcher’s shop which indicated where all the ingredients on the shelves were placed, was absolutely mind blowing.
Modern technology saw Thomas Crapper coming to the rescue bringing his new invention of the toilet with him. This became affectionately known as the ‘crapper’. Unfortunately, not having worked out a proper sewage system, the first creation was a simple wooden box pipe. With not quite as much thought as would have been ideal, add to the sewage system the tide timetable, when it came in there was a reverse in pressure and if you were unfortunate enough to be sat on the toilet, the quote which came up through my research was, ‘It was strong enough to blow you off the crapper!’ You can just imagine, it would have been quite the sewage tsunami.
So with that new found knowledge and the sun shining, we visited a gem of a chocolate shop that randomly had an oversized furry bear in it. I skipped out holding tight to my purchase of salted dark chocolate which was quite splendid. We visited the Starbucks Roastery in Capitol Hill which is a must, ate delicious local and Jamaican home cooked food, visited Pike Place Market, went to the movies, had a wander round Ballard munching apple pie and lest we forget the unforgettable visit to the, ‘Sexy Alley Puffy Taco’ window, (yes it really is called that and no we couldn’t not try it out!)
So with good company and activities that were out of the ordinary, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend off from being a Seattle-ite and instead playing the role of a Seattle tourist.