Saturday, January 22, 2011

Smith Tower

I went out for a pseudo-tourist afternoon with some friends and their friends from afar (S. Korea, to be exact).  We went on the Underground Tour, where you can listen to amusing stories about Seattle's rough and tumble frontier past while standing in dark and abandoned underground rooms and sidewalks that were once bustling businesses above the ground.

Some fun facts -

1. After the Great Seattle fire in 1889, the city started taxing prostitutes.  Pretty much all of the business district was destroyed, so no one had any money apparently.  Except the working ladies, who ended up contributing 81% of the money used to rebuild Seattle. 

2.  Lou Graham was a prominent Seattle madame who donated to children's education, more than all of the other local philanthropists combined.  When she died without a will, her estate was given to fund education in King County.  Until Bill Gates came along, she was the single largest private donor to education in Washington.  No schools are named after her though.  

3.  Manganese added to molten glass will eventually turn the glass purple if it's exposed to sunlight for 2-3 years.

what is this notched, curved thing?

unsuspecting pedestrians passing above

the loveliest toilet I ever did see

We also went to Smith Tower, a skyscraper built in 1914 that was the tallest building west of the Mississippi for 17 years.  Didn't go up, but the lobby was exquisite!

gorgeous elevator

Like an ancient bronze mirror...

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