The first tour we took was the Argosy Harbor Cruise. The tour began at Pier 55. We sailed counter-clockwise around the harbor, while our tour guide named Ferguson or Fernando, something along those lines, gave us a detailed description of the sites. We were lucky enough to sit next to a very excitable gentlemen who happened to know the crew, for the entire hour. Unfortunately, we made two wrong choices concerning our tour. First, we seated our self on the “wrong side” of the boat to see most of the shore from our seats. Second, (we didn’t really have many other options) we took our tour on a very rainy and windy day. This made for a fairly eventful ride for a couple of very green tourists. These are some of the sites we enjoyed.
Our next engagement was Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. This excursion allowed us to view Seattle from the underground passageways formed between the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. When building by water, early settlers did not consider that building wooden structures amidst all the mud and muck, was probably not a very bright idea. The city’s conditions were almost unbearable. Olden day pot holes were filled in with sawdust, public drainage was not very sanitary, and every time it rained, soil washed away and left the ground more uneven that it was at the start. Luckily for Seattle, in 1889 the whole place burned down. With the gold rush in full swing, increasing the economic status of the area, an opportunity to renew was abreast. With the relief money from the fire (and the gold rush) the city began to rebuild. This essentially gave birth to the Seattle underground. It was decided, that to get the city out of the mud and the muck, the city would build about a floor above the ground. We can now see the old store fronts on the underground tour. Take a look for yourself, there are sidewalks under sidewalks and glass on “street level” to give light in the tunnels before electricity became common place. Madness I tell you!
The Underground was a very interesting tour. Our guide, whose name escapes me, gave us a different perspective about how to perceive history. Look at what you know about the time period, what was above the buildings and records about who spent the most time in this area of town. From there, you can write your own version of history.
Some fun facts we learned:
1. Thomas J. Crapper made the first modern day toilet.
2. Seattlites did not realize that when the tide came in it would back up all of their toilets. Water flows down… until the tide comes in. People began putting washrooms on stilts.
3. When people screw you, make them Mayor. Henry Yestler always appeared to have the city’s best interest at heart. He filled potholes to help keep streets in the best condition. He did this by filling them with sawdust, inadvertently dumping waste from his saw mills at no cost to the company or more importantly, to himself.
4. If another bureaucrat is not running the city like you think they should, when they get sick, dope them up. Doc Maynard and Arthur Denny had always been at odds about how to run the city. When Denny got sick, Doc Maynard swooped in and helped him get better. He doped up Denny, and helped him get rid of some real estate that became the heart of the city Pioneer Square.
I hope you enjoyed this tour as much as I did!