Monday, May 17, 2010
Take me to the Underground; Seattle Underground Tour
This fire that destroyed Pioneer Square became known as the “great fire.” But at the time the firefighters were rushing to tapped out water supplies, who would have ever thought a destructive fire would revamp the area and land it on the national register of historic places? Work had to be done of course.
Following the fire, rules were set that the new city would be built upon the old city. New brick structures replaced wood and shop owners were going back in business, one story higher. The original Pioneer Square was soon forgotten, and eventually even the remodeled Pioneer Square would join the forgotten ranks.
You see, Seattle was a stopping point for thrill seekers and adventure goers on their way to Alaska for the Yukon Gold Rush. Trashing the city and bringing in a sort of grime, many of the distinguished businesses moved uptown. Pioneer Square was no longer a place for commerce or community.
Business owners had no interest in opening or reopening business here because traffic was slowing and the neighboring buildings were in threat of getting torn down. After the public showed an interest in touring the underground and seeing the original city the government started to act.
Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act. I am a fan. There is a certain mentality that revolves around newer is better. To me, the fact that someone stepped up to realize that buildings can age well with the right care, keeps history and the stories behind these walls alive.
Without preserving this area, it would have most likely been torn down and rebuilt into a modern state. And don’t get me wrong, I love modern architecture. But walking around the historic Pioneer Square, looking up at the brick buildings and handcrafted woodwork gives me a good feeling knowing history won’t escape.