travel
Fremont declared itself an “artists’ republic” in the 1960s, when a community of students, artists, and bohemians moved in, attracted by low rents. The name crystallizes the unflagging spirit of independence, eccentricity, and most of all, nonconformity. In retrospect, what may have begun as an idealistic artists’ enclave was more accurately an early sign of fast advancing gentrification. The scenic Lake Washington Ship Canal and part of Lake Union create its southern border, and passing boats of all sizes continually refresh the view. The drawbridge on busy Fremont Avenue rises and falls deliriously umpteen times a day, snarling traffic that backs up the hill for blocks. The quaint neighborhood spawns new boutiques, clubs, and restaurants that keep changing the face and identity of this town. As Seattle grows and its population overflows, more and more professionals seek homes in Fremont, only minutes away from downtown by car or bus.

Center of the Universe signpost

The hype says Fremont’s “funky”, but renewed, remodeled, and retail is the trend.


Although the professional class has moved in, Fremont’s art community is still vital.


Aimless walking can be an adventure in Fremont. You just never know who or what will turn the next corner.


NOTE

Sights
  1. Fremont Bridge

    The lowest of four bridges spanning the Lake Washington Ship Canal, this connects Fremont to residential Queen Anne and two main arterials to downtown. Because of the bridge’s low clearance, it faces frequent openings from sailboat, motor yacht, or industrial vessels. Neon art adorns a portion of the span, in the form of a golden-haired Rapunzel and her locks cascading down from the bridgeman’s tower.

    • 3020 Westlake Ave N

  2. Waiting for the Interurban

    Frozen in time, Richard Beyer’s celebrated 1979 cast aluminum sculpture – five human forms and a dog with a human face – preside at Fremont’s busiest intersection where a community trolley once stopped. Legend has it that the dog’s likeness belongs to Arman Napoleon Stepanian, an activist-hero who sparked the recycling movement 30 years ago. The work pokes fun at modern humanity’s ennui. It also represents one of Seattle’s earliest public art installations.

    • N 34th St, Fremont Ave N

    People Waiting for the Interurban
  3. History House

    Seattle’s colorful past is on view at History House where historians interpret and preserve the heritage of the city’s distinct neighborhoods. Exhibits in the main gallery complement a three-sided, sepiatone wall mural that depicts 100 years of Seattle history, encompassing the arts, technology, and industry. Peruse rotating displays of various Seattle neighborhoods. Other features include a sculpture garden and a gift shop.

  4. Fremont Ferry

    A boater’s dream, the small passenger-only steamer plies the waters of Lake Union from its north shore in Fremont to the grounds along the southern shore near downtown during the July Wooden Boat Festival. A labor of love for captain, Larry Kezner, the ferry is strictly for sightseeing cruises along Seattle’s Ship Canal and adjacent lakes.

  5. Lenin Statue

    Slovakian sculptor Emil Venkov found little interest in his 7 ton (6,350-kg), 25-ft (8-m) likeness of Russian revolutionary V.I. Lenin after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A visiting American, Lewis Carpenter, paid $13,000 for the work and had it shipped through the Panama Canal to his hometown near Seattle. After Carpenter died in 1994, Fremont artist and foundry owner Peter Bevis managed to have the bronze Lenin statue installed in the neighborhood. The incongruity of a Communist icon amidst flourishing shops and capitalist businesses is not lost on anyone. The statue remains a striking symbol that strives to put art before politics.

    • 3526 Fremont Avenue N

  6. Dinosaur Topiaries

    Two ivy-covered dinosaur topiaries, which had formerly decorated the lawn near the Pacific Science Center at Seattle Center, now grace Fremont’s narrow Ship Canal Park. To save them from extinction, History House and a group of Fremont artists purchased these in 1999 for $1. The mother, 66-ft (20-m) long, and young apatosauri are now sanctioned by the city and fully integrated into the crazy quilt of what is virtually a neighborhood-wide sculpture garden.

    • Intersection of Phinney Ave & 34th

  7. Fremont Troll

    An icon of Fremont’s free spirit is a 15-ft (4.5-m) tall Volkswagen-eating troll created by Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead, after winning a national competition sponsored by the Fremont Arts Council, that in 1989 decided that public art was the best use for a dark space beneath a highway bridge. Though ugly, the troll’s location under the north end of Aurora Bridge means that it remains on the route of almost every visitor who walks or takes a tour bus.

    • Intersection of Aurora Ave (Hwy 99) & N 36th St

    Fremont Troll
  8. Ship Canal Park

    A lovely landscaped strip not much wider than a stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail attracts tourists all year round. Today, the park creates viewpoints along the Canal and several places to sit, play chess, picnic, and watch the world go by. Pedestrians don’t need to dodge speeding bicycles, however, since there is a separate gravel path for bi-peds.

    • Phinney Ave & 2nd Ave NW

  9. Sunday Street Market

    Rain or shine, the Fremont Sunday Market has withstood the test of time, real estate development, and even lawsuits from neighboring businesses. Begun in 1990 to foster a pedestrian-friendly community and provide an outlet for artists and independent vendors to sell whatever they had to offer, the market hosts up to 200 booths of crafts, imported goods, furniture, food, and knick-knacks that defy description.

  10. Outdoor Cinema

    The trompe d’oeuil screen and curtains on a factory wall attract hundreds of attendees for campy feature films. It grew from a sparsely attended free affair to a popular summer weekend event that charges admission. Part old-fashioned American drive-in, part Fremont irreverence, people bring their own chairs or sofas and occasionally compete in film-related games between reels. The shows begin after sundown, but audiences begin arriving for the best seats by mid-afternoon.

    • Saturday:

      35th & Phinney Ave
      ; Friday:
      N 34th & Stoneway
    • 206 781 4230

    • $5 donation

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