Secrets lurk under the streets of Seattle

db953d6833513da178f184945a2dce44I was telling someone about the dark secrets of Seattle yesterday, and they looked at me like I was bonkers.

I’m not, and everything I’m gonna tell you now is absolutely true.

Just imagine…

A city wiped out by apocalyptic fire.

The survivors rebuild atop its ruins.

For decades, the old city hides quietly beneath the new, no more than an urban legend to modern generations.

Toss in a few mutants and you’ve got the next zombie TV series — of which, I’ll agree, there are already too many.

But I’m talking about real-life Seattle, Washington.

After fire destroyed some 24 square blocks of downtown in 1889, citizens built retaining walls and hoisted an all-new Seattle above the soggy tideflats to avoid old flooding and sewage problems.

This left the original sidewalks and building entrances underground and forgotten — until restoration of historic Pioneer Square began in the 1960s.

A few summers ago, Deb and I took a tour of Seattle’s surreal subterranean city. We walked through dark passageways that squirm underneath busy modern-day sidewalks and past crumbling 19th century doorways and signage. We got a fascinating history lesson.

And I discovered a business lesson there, too.

Here’s the deal…

A whole crapload of historic treasure lay unexplored, untapped, and unexploited below Seattle for more than 60 years.

Then a journalist slash columnist slash humorist slash PR dude slash historical preservationist named Bill Speidel decided to spearhead a campaign to save deteriorating Pioneer Square from the wrecking ball.

Speidel did that by diligently researching the city’s past. And that’s how he discovered the buried ruins of early Seattle.

The result?

Well, for one thing, the old neighborhood was designated an historic district.

For another, Speidel became an entrepreneur. He wrote bestselling books about the city, became a sought-after lecturer, and founded the popular guided walking tour of Seattle’s underground that we enjoyed so much several years back.

So I’ve got a couple of questions for you:

First, like the remnants of old Seattle, what treasures — wisdom, knowledge, ideas, contacts — lie unexplored, untapped, and unexploited inside of you?

And second, when are you gonna take advantage of them?

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