Underworld

Great 1922 image on the approach to the Morgan Bridge at the Perkins Building. These folks worked for the Central Steam Company that provided piped steam to most of the downtown through a system of tunnels under the sidewalks on the east side of the streets. The main steam plant is in the background and the business office is there in the Perkins Building. I missed the recent underground Tacoma tour but I’m sure the storteller guides entertained folks with dark myths and legends about how Tacoma’s tunnels concealed the city’s nefarious underworld, how bootleggers and Shanghai goons slipped down the inky passageways. And how people walking on the downtown streets above would catch a shadow of something moving underneath the glass brick grates in the sidewalk at night. Its wonderful the way this photo is torn and battered a bit suggesting somehow that the propriety and upstanding daylight respectability of this group is not exactly what it appears. Use of the steam tunnels, legitimate or not, was after all controlled by someone and they are probably in this picture.

Perkins Bld

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