After the International District, we walked down the hill to Pioneer Square. This is the oldest part of Seattle and we decided to visit Smith Tower first. Smith Tower, when built in the early 1900s was one of the world's first skyscrapers, at 42 stories high. I'd read that the view from this building is better, and a lot cheaper, than the Space Needle view. So we decided to brave the old-fashioned cage elevator, still manually operated, and go to the 35th floor observation deck. Getting out of the elevator you step into the Chinese Room. The wood and porcelain ceiling, and other decorations, were given to L.C. Smith in the first part of the last century by the Empress of China. The views were magnificent. The pictures can speak for themselves. We saw the Puget Sound with the Olympics as a background, the Space Needle, and our football and baseball stadium.
Our next stop in the Pioneer Square was the Underground Tour. This 90 minute tour takes you "underground" to see old Seattle. In 1889 a fire burned Seattle to the ground. The city planners decided to take that opportunity to rebuild Seattle, and decided to rebuild one level up. What does this mean? Well you'll have to take the tour to get all the history on it, but basically the ground floor for most buildings became the basement. And the old streets and sidewalks were preserved underneath the current streets. Way back when they first created this underground, a lot of people still went about their daily business by using the original front doors of the buildings. Now that they were underground though, they couldn't really see in the tunnels, hence sidewalk sky lights. Confusing? Yes. Good tour that explains it better than me? Absolutely. So the pictures show the skylights as well as an old bank vault that we walked through. At any rate, the tour was really interesting and we learned a lot about Seattle history.Our final destination of our day-long excursion was to check out some local shops in Pioneer Square. Magic Mouse Toys was one of the most interesting and fun toy stores I've ever been in (Robb bought a new yoyo string). Cow Chip Cookies had some decent-tasting chocolate chip cookies (pretty yummy, but some flavoring that I wasn't crazy about). And Elliot Bay Bookstore is always a delight (we got a couple of used books about Seattle). The picture of the bookstore doesn't even begin to do the store justice. Imagine room after room of books, looking just like this picture. This place is huge.
We caught the last bus home from Seattle at 6:32. We accidentally got on the wrong bus though, so yes, it took us home, but yes it took us 1.5 hours and we were subjected to the rude and thug-like bus patrons. Now we know. Avoid Route 174 at all costs! But all-in-all, besides the bus ride home, our day was beautiful and perfect. Good exploring day.