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City Snap Guide: Seattle

If you love coffee but can’t afford to go to Italy, why not take a jaunt into Washington state and visit Seattle!

What makes Seattle so special? The world famous Pike Place market, the first ever Starbucks, the underground city? With a buzzing art world, a lively waterfront and unique cultural experiences, Seattle should definitely be on your bucket list. Friendly people, a great downtown and killer shopping make this city one you’ll want to visit over and over. Seattle has something for everyone, never failing to disappoint. One tip to remember? Bring your umbrella! Northern west coast weather is a little more than unpredictable. A bonus? The buses downtown are free for large portions of the day making the city very tourist-friendly.

A City Underground

Seattle is unique in it’s construction. The city was settled in 1851, making it quite modern in recent history. However, the roads were at sea level, and the city would frequently flood. In 1889, sixty-four blocks of the business district of Seattle burnt to the ground.

When it came time to rebuild, the city decided to raise the street level to prevent further flooding. In order to do this, they built retaining walls around the streets, filling them with rubble from the fire. However, the building entrances and sidewalks still remained below the walls – which sometimes were as high as the building’s second level! As you can imagine, this made getting from one side of the street to the other extremely difficult.

Eventually the sidewalks were leveled with the streets, and the bottom levels of the buildings became forgotten. In the 1960s, Bill Speidel petitioned to save the buildings from being torn down and began the underground tours – which he turned into a full time business! The Underground Tour is an incredible way to learn history, the tour guides truly enjoy their jobs! For those interested in a little bit more adult fun, the Underworld Tour looks at the red light district, and tales full of opium, sex and debauchery. The one major rule for the tours? No high heels allowed! The terrain is rugged and includes six flights of stairs.

For more on Seattle, check out Great Coffee, Great Food and More Coffee… or Look and Learn: Things to See in Seattle.