The Past, Present and Future of the Alaskan Way Viaduct - Atlas Obscura

Seattle, Washington

The Past, Present and Future of the Alaskan Way Viaduct

Learn the stories behind the historic replacement of Seattle's love-it-or-hate-it elevated highway on this walking-and-talking tour.

Bertha, the most "boring" machine, is finally finishing her dig through Seattle.

During this unique Obscura Society event, you'll be able to tour the project, get answers on the challenges encountered, and gain a unique historical overview of why the Alaskan Way Viaduct site has presented challenges throughout Seattle’s history.

For a view of the "present," we’ll be led around the site by Joseph Clare, Program Engineer for WSDOT, to see the multi-billion dollar endeavor from an engineer’s perspective. We’ll also explore the exhibits at Milepost 31, an interactive gallery set up to showcase the project’s progress in Pioneer Square. You’ll also have ample opportunities to ask questions, and learn from multiple speakers about the past, present, and future of Seattle’s waterfront highway project.

This event, organized by Field Agent Eric Magnuson, will feature a walking tour of the waterfront project site and surrounding neighborhood. We will engage in an immersive discussion of the past, present and future of the Alaskan Way Viaduct's physical location. Please note that we will stay on the surface (and above) during our time with the engineers. However, you will see the site where the world’s largest tunneling drill was excavated for repair after traveling just over 1,000 feet of its nearly 2 mile journey. And you’ll be offered the chance to climb up to a unique perch just off the lower deck of the Viaduct for sweeping views of the southern tunnel entrance and entire waterfront’s scope of activity.


  • Meet at Milepost 31 Gallery in Pioneer Square.
  • Parking vouchers are available and good for two hours of free parking at the First and Columbia Garage (721 First Ave, Seattle, WA 98104). They are not valid when special events or game day rates are in effect. They must be collected from Milepost 31.
  • The WSDOT route is not wheelchair accessible, and will be ½ mile round trip. Attendees must be able walk over uneven ground and climb up and down 50 stairs. Please plan accordingly with proper shoes.
  • No one under the age of 13 is permitted. Minors age 13 through 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Participants are advised not to wear skirts or dresses.
  • You must sign a liability waiver on the day of the event.
  • Rain or shine. This is Seattle, after all.
  • Photography is encouraged. Tag #atlasobscura for anything especially interesting.


Email Eric Magnuson at

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Advance ticket sales only. All sales are final.