Portland Walking Tours

The Great Shanghai Tunnels debate

March 14th, 2013

There’s a lot of debate around Portland’s legendary “Shanghai Tunnels” – what went on in them, where they are, how extensive they are, etc.

The experts may disagree amongst themselves, but you can settle a lot of this debate for yourself.

Next time someone tells you that you’re in a tunnel, look up.

If you see wooden joists, i.e. long, two-inch-wide, 10 or 12 inch deep boards, holding up the floor above you… you’re not in a tunnel. You’re in a basement. And the person telling you this tale is… well, telling you a tale. A tall tale, as they used to say.

If, instead, you see stone, brick, or even concrete – something solid, that can hold up the weight of streetcars, buses, trucks, and the street itself – then you MIGHT be in a tunnel.

As far as what went on inside the room – or tunnel – that you’re in… well, there are histories, and there are “historians.”

Maybe this little video here will help.

By the way, we should probably mention two things:

  • We have recently obtained access to exciting new underground areas in one of our Chinatown locations! We’ll be adding it to the tour soon. (You can see for yourself whether it’s a tunnel or a basement.)
  • The Underground Portland tour is now running on Thursdays at 10 AM and 2 PM, and Saturdays at 4:30 PM, in addition to our usual Friday thru Saturday 11 AM and 2 PM start times.

Happy discovering!