Well on Saturday night, we became Ghostbusters ourselves when we joined the Underground Paranormal Experience searching for spooky happenings in the underground passages that once formed Seattle's streetfronts back in the late 1800's.
Originally, Seattle's downtown was built near sea level, and frequently flooded. After the great fire of 1889, they decided to build retaining walls, on either side of the old streets, filled in the space between the walls, and paved over the fill to effectively raise the streets, making them one story higher than the old sidewalks that still ran alongside them. But the old storefronts remained as basements when business owners rebuilt above them.
Now, you can tour those old storefronts underground. They're nothing but ruins now, but it's still a really interesting experience. Bill Speidel's Underground Tour has become a popular thing to do in Seattle, and now they've added a new tour because of unexplained paranormal happenings on the old sidewalks below ground.
The tour meets in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
Being a ghostbuster requires some training. They group you together to get outfitted with all the latest high tech gear. They give each person an electromagnet energy sensor and highly sensitive thermometer to catch any weird surges. Apparently many paranormal experiences include a sudden drop in temperature. The device also records all these abnormalities.
Kevin, all set to search for ghosts!
High tech meters!
High tech listening devices that record sounds that humans can't hear!
And then after you're all fitted out and trained in the use of the devices, you head underground. It's a pretty neat experience, and although they've done some repairs to some of the walking surfaces, it's left much like it was in its original state.
At the entrance, the lights are turned off. Everybody is equipped with a flashlight though.
Kind of spooky!
An old stairway.
Seattle was a rough town back in the 1880's. Prostitution and gambling were common, and there were quite a few murders on the streets outside of the old bars. Stories are told of these events and the reasons that ghosts might still roam around down below. Lots of fun, and wandering around in the dark is a very cool experience!
They let you roam around and explore on your own quite a bit.
The teller cage from an old bank vault.
Entrance to the bank vault.
The tour ended far too quickly though! Seemed like we only just got started down there. I could have easily spent another hour wandering around.
This is a new tour for the company, and I'm sure it will be adapted and changed as time goes on. Definitely an interesting experience, and although we didn't come up with anything "unexplainable", it was fun trying!
The tour costs $30, so it's quite a bit more than the $18 adult ticket price for the normal tour. But, they did have to buy the expensive equipment that you get to use while you're hunting for ghosts so the pricing does make sense. We actually think it's a fair price for the tour.
We totally enjoyed our time underground, but there are two things we would recommend they change. The time we think should be a half an hour or so longer. And we think the group numbers should be capped a little lower. We're not sure if our tour was a sellout, but we think that 18 people plus our two guides was too many. It's not that you're bumping into each other, but too many people underground searching for spirits kind of ruins the ambiance.
But, we had fun nonetheless, and our tour guides Sarah and Rose did a great job!
Tour guides Sarah and Rose!
You can book your own tour at http://undergroundtour.com/about/paranormal.html
Currently, the Paranormal tour only runs on Friday and Saturday nights.