Step across time in a neighborhood where history is underfoot. The sidewalks of Pioneer Square have thousands of stories to tell.

"If these sidewalks could talk," said Alliance for Pioneer Square Chief Operating Officer Lisa Howard, "I think they would say a lot of things."

The sidewalks adjacent to the historic Smith Tower and other Pioneer Square landmarks are checkered with thousands of small squares made from prism glass. These jewels beneath the feet once served a practical purpose.

Howard said, "It was to let light down into the underground that people were still utilizing."

After much of Seattle burned in 1889, city leaders used the opportunity to rebuild and raise the streets above the high tide mark.

"But then once they were raised," Howard explained, "You had your entrances on, basically, the second floor of the building."

The original sidewalks, now below ground, became tunnels and work spaces. The opague glass inlays provided a source of light from above. But many of the squares have suffered a century of wear and tear. Others have been paved over completely. So local boosters are raising money for a makeover.

"We're kind of the gem of Seattle, and I think it's definitely worth protecting," said Howard.

Many of the squares will be saved. Some will be swapped out for custom-made replacements, so these windows into the past will have a chance to keep telling their stories.

Howard said, "It's really an asset that we can protect, as a city, to remember our history."

To contribute to the preservation and restoration of Pioneer Square's glass sidewalks, click here.