The neighborhood of Fremont will inspire a number of questions, such as: Why is there a troll eating a car under the Aurora Bridge? Is that a statue of Lenin? Why are people cycling naked? Your questions aside, Freemont is an eclectic area on the edge of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and is home to a diverse collection of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Though the neighborhood primarily revolves around its large artistic community, there are plenty of schools, parks, and tech companies that add to the vibe as well. Fremont calls itself “The Center of the Universe,” and since the universe appears to be limitless, they could be right. One more question to think about…
Fremont, Seattle Data : Neighborhoods & Travel – Score out of 100
Fremont, Seattle Reviews
As the self proclaimed Center of the Universe, Fremont is Seattle’s quirkiest neighborhood, and the residents are proud of that distinction, even adopting a Latin slogan for the neighborhood, “De Delibertas Quirkas”, which is inscribed on the side of a 1950’s rocket fuselage attached to the side of one of Fremonts buildings. Not far from the rocket, you’ll run across a giant statue of Lenin, a real life troll living under the Aurora Bridge, the “Waiting for the Interurban” sculpture, and a sculptural homage to local television legend J.P. Patches and his sidekick Gertrude. Residents claim that time warps here in the center of the universe, so you’ll understand why signs on the edge of the neighborhood ask you to set your watch back 5 minutes as you enter.
Historically, Fremont has been a bohemian, artistic neighborhood, drawing artists and students in the 1960’s taking advantage of the neighborhoods’ cheap rents. Fremonts’ artistic spirit lives on with its great array of public art installations, the work of the Fremont Arts Council, and the annual Summer Solstice Parade and Fair, celebrating the neighborhoods reputation and the beginning of Summer. If you’re really feeling into the spirit of Fremont, you can strip down, paint your body, and ride your bike naked with hundreds of other parade crashers to kick off the annual event!
As a livable neighborhood, it doesn’t get much better than Fremont. You can easily live, work, and play within walking distance in this neighborhood, and many major bus lines run through the heart of the neighborhood. A stroll through both lower and upper Fremont will reveal a wealth of software companies, artists lofts, great restaurants, and more independent coffee shops than should be legal in one square mile! You’ll not want to miss a sandwich at Paseo Carribean on Fremont Ave. There’s no sign; just look for the line out the door, and get there early or you’ll risk them being out of sandwiches before your turn at the counter.
One of the greatest things about Fremont is the variety of people who make this neighborhood home. You’ll surprised at the number of families with young children walking around on a Saturday morning. But don’t let that deter singles, there’s plenty of nightlife, along with students and young professionals working at tech startups along the canal. In addition, many of the owners of Fremonts’ ethnic eateries live close by as well, adding a wealth of cultural diversity to the neighborhood.
A sense of community is tangible in Fremont, and anybody who values knowing their neighbors and being involved in their neighborhood should consider life in Fremont.
Communism and art
Fremont is proud to be the weirdest nabe in Seattle. There was a time that the residents wanted it to become a separate city, but Fremont needs Seattle just as much as Seattle needs Fremont. The uniqueness of this neighborhood is in its diversity. Art and politics mix here in an elegant yet understandable way in the statue of Lenin standing on the corner of Evanston Ave. N and N 36th St. It was brought here from Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) in 1994 and put up for sale. As of yet, there is no buyer. The price is $250,000. The statue, meanwhile, became a centerpiece of many Fremont festivals, including the gay pride parade and Solstice Parade. During the 2004 Solstice Parade Lenin was dressed like John Lennon. Another attraction (great for children) is the Troll, located under the Aurora Bridge.
Fremont is the best place for artists and tourists, with its many art galleries, small alternative cafes a la Paris, and great ethnic restaurants. It is a relaxed and welcoming place for people of different interests and backgrounds.What's awesome
Gelato shop next to statue of Lenin and Ballard bridge.What's not so awesome
Too loud at night.
The Weird, the Artsy, and the Regular
Most the world’s exposure to Fremont probably comes from the scene in “10 Things I Hate About You,” when all of a sudden they’re walking on a concrete troll under a bridge. This troll is the face of Fremont, a nabe that is as inexplicable as the troll’s appearance in this movie.
Despite recent competition from Capitol Hill, this nabe remains the most artsy and out-there collection of people and places Seattle has to offer. Yet on this landscape of semi-urbanity, mingled among the plethora of strange statues and quirky happenings are regular people doing regular work. In this sense, Fremont is one of the most Seattle-ey nabes you can find, just a big mix of weird, artsy, and regular people doing whatever they’re passionate about.What's awesome
Visiting here if you’re into artsy stuff.What's not so awesome
Living here if you’re not into artsy stuff.
Fremont, Seattle: the Universal Center of Your Wanderings
Well, who wouldn’t want to live in the self-proclaimed Center of the Universe? Where else can you find an original statue of Lenin (I mean, we do live in the U.S. of Freedom after all), a giant troll about to eat a beetle car under a bridge with breathtaking views of Seattle, an original space rocket ready to launch (except that gas prices are too high so we’ll leave the shuttle where it’s at), the only organic, fair-trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the nation not to mention that Fremont, or Fre-llard (as people in Ballard like to call it) or Wally-mont (as people in Wallingford like to call it) hosts one of the most successful naked bike-rides in the nation and, may I say, in the world? Fremont is one of those neighborhoods where you don’t mind getting stuck behind the bus waiting for the bridge to go down because you get to see all the entertaining characters and daily un-ordinary happenings like the guy playing guitar outside PCC who’s been having a public monologue with himself for a few years now and he’s still going strong. Or the volunteers who keep dressing up the statues of the Interurban sculpture. Or the hundreds of zombies who take on the streets during the Red, White and Dead Zombie Block Party which, may I add, also broke the Guinness World Record in 2009? And how nice is it to watch a classic movie in the outdoor cinema complete with a giant reproduction of none other than Humphrey Bogart? Whatever frolicky activities might happen in the cars are obviously a way to embrace the spirit of the outdoor cinema by re-enacting nostalgic times gone by. Well, yes price have gone up slightly in recent years but the experiences you’ll get out of Fremont will make signing that fat check worth-while. In any case you can always walk to one of the newly sprouted local breweries, drown your sorrows there and then have a dedicated taxi-person pick you up there and take you right to your beloved, Fremont-born doorsteps.What's awesome
Local breweries, people-watching, the Sunday Market, the Solstice Parade, the outdoor cinema, the Troll, the Lenin statue, the rocket, the Burke-Gilman trail, the chocolate factory, all-you-can-drink coffeeWhat's not so awesome
it ain’t that cheap anymore
Fremont is more than a troll
If you have read other reviews of Fremont you have read of its quirkiness (which has a draw in itself – who doesn’t like trolls?); however, what is not mentioned is Fremont’s thriving local business environment that can fill any future Seattleite’s dream of the perfect neighborhood: coffee, chocolate, bakeries, arts, boutique and antique shops. And one in example, which makes Fremont a rare gem is Theo’s Chocolate – a fair-trade business that creates and sells artisan chocolate with local ingredients. And best of all, on any given day Theo’s displays mounds of irresistible samples of their assorted bars for a little (or a lot) chocolate ala carte.
My husband and I make Fremont a common stop when we’re biking along the seventeen mile Burke-Gilman – Seattle’s longest and most scenic walking and biking trail. It runs north and south through Seattle, and for bike commuters or bike enthusiasts living in Fremont, the Burke-Gilman is a convenient way to get to various neighborhoods without dealing with too much car traffic. However, biking isn’t the only alternative way to get to Fremont – several bus routes, including buses that go downtown loop through the neighborhood.
From a non-resident and frequent visitor it seems the best parts of Fremont are on or near its business district, which on top of the businesses already mentioned has an eclectic array of restaurants and bars and a neighborhood PCC Natural Marketgrocery store, and every weekend there is the Fremont Sunday Market with dozens of vendors who sell everything from antiques, produce, to street food, to arts and crafts.
Perhaps a downside to living in Fremont versus living on Capitol Hill is that despite it being more urban than most Seattle neighborhoods it just doesn’t have the same city and close-knit community feeling that comes with living in dense neighborhoods likeCapitol Hill. And the further you are from the business district the less urban it feels. However, this might be a plus for people looking for a sense of urban life without the density and urban noise that usually comes with it.
And as a Capitol Hill loyalist (I mean it is the most urban hood of Seattle) and self-proclaimed expert people really are different in Fremont. “Women actually hit on me here,” a more distinguished (i.e. older) Capitol Hill friend decrees. A bordering neighborhood I always imagined Fremont as the place Capitol Hill 30ish professionals move to when they grow up, or perhaps to feel more grown up. As a Fremont frequenter, appreciator and with friends who have upgraded (or settled down with kids) to this neighborhood – I would say Fremont is more of a family-centered neighborhood and is connected to a series of neighborhoods also family-oriented likeWallingford and Ballard. But don’t let this perception fool you singles, according to the latest government census Fremont’s married population is a little less than 40%.
I have compared Fremont with Capitol Hill because I believe people who would be drawn to neighborhoods like Fremont or Capitol Hill are probably looking for similar qualities in a neighborhood: quirkiness, local business culture, arts/culture, community, outdoor environment and urban life.
Overall, Fremont is a wonderful place to visit, on average it is comparable in terms of expenses with Capitol Hill, though with some research Fremont has a slightly higher median housing and rental price.
Despite it being slightly more expensive, when the time is right I am sure my husband and I along with our future kids will make that great leap from Capitol Hill to Fremont. That wondrous, life-changing two mile leap.What's not so awesome
Most likely unlivable without a car.
Fremont: AKA The Artists’ Republic of Fremont: AKA The Center of the Universe
This Seattle neighborhood is perhaps the most eccentric in the city, which an observant wander will note. Home to giants such as Google, Getty Images, and BAESystems, one would expect a corporate center but instead the wander might note signs throughout the neighborhood instructing: “set your watch 5 minutes back”, “set your watch 5 minutes ahead”, and “throw your watch away.” The center of the neighborhood is home to a controversial statue of Lenin from Slovakia brought over after the fall of Communism in 1989. The statue was commissioned by the Soviet and Czechoslovak governments of artist Emil Venkov. Venkov, an obviously brave man, did not follow standard Soviet operating procedure: showing Lenin as a thinker and philosopher. Not Emil. He stayed within the bounds of the commission showing Lenin striding to war surrounded by flames and guns. The statue was removed from public view after the Wall fell, as were most statues of Lenin, and sat waiting to be sold for scrap metal when local resident, Lewis E. Carpenter, recognized it as something different. He mortgaged his house to bring Lenin to the Center of the Universe.
Speaking of statues, if you wander the parks near the Aurora Bridge you will inevitably be asked: “do you know where the Troll is?” The Fremont Troll hides under the north end of the bridge, an 18-foot tall concrete beast with a Volkswagen Beetle crushed in one hand. The troll moved to Fremont in 1990, courtesy of artists Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead. If you find him, no need to be shy: he is meant to be climbed on, posed with, and generally interacted with.
The main event (among many smaller events) in the summer is the Summer Solstice Parade, organized by the Fremont Arts Council, which kicks of the Fremont Fair, organized by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. The Parade includes wacky floats, hundreds of dancers of all different flavors, musicians, and giant puppets that all make their way to Gas Works Park. What you won’t see in the parade is any motor vehicles, any words or logos or advertisement. What you will see in the parade is a gaggle of Solstice Cyclists, naked bodies painted brightly making their way to the Fair.
What can I say…Fremont is awesome
For some reason, whenever I think of Fremont the first word that pops into my head is “creative” and I instantly see brightly colored images flashing before my eyes: the blue and orange Fremont bridge, the colorful t-shirts adorning those statues across the street from the PCC, and the multitudinous storefronts lining 36th Ave. It really speaks to Fremont’s character that it is so easy to imagine, and that it has the same resonance for nearly any Seattle locals you might ask about it.
Good vibes emanate from every corner here. The people tend to be remarkably friendly, and in an authentic way, unlike the fake-cheeriness that many people complain about with regard to Seattlites. The shopping is exceptional and all-inclusive, as is the cuisine. Paseos is a famous Cuban sandwich place that people flock to from all over Seattle, and it’s just one jewel among many. The nightlife is a great middle road for a lot of young people, much less hip and snobby than Capitol Hill but still extremely lively, and it appeals to the older set as well. Plus there’s the clubbier Nectar among the more relaxed bars and pubs.
I’ve always thought of Fremont as more of a family-oriented nabe (with the youngins just bussing in to shop or bar hop), but I have several friends who go to UW who live there and love it. Taking the bus to UW is quite easy, and Fremont and the surrounding nabes (Wallingford, Ballard) are often preferred by UW employees overCapitol Hill, Madison Park, etc. because crossing the montlake bridge in the morning can be a huge hassle.
Overall, Fremont is one of Seattle’s very best neighborhoods and is well-suited for anyone’s tastes…as long as you like bright colors 🙂
A great walking community with many art installations to enjoy. Take a walk along the ship canal, tour a chocolate factory or just walk the variety of shops. Known for the Fremont Troll and the Fremont Solstice Parade there are so many wonderful aspects to Fremont. We have a Rowing Club, a full sound studio, many small work spaces perfect for artists, health care practitioners and hobbyists. With ties back to our industrial past Fremont still boasts one of the only industrial zones inside an urban village. This zoning allows for factories next to commercial to bring a diversity that many neighborhoods lack.
Fremont – Center of the Universe
Fremont has been a neighborhood I have known for many years of my life, though always as a visitor. However, now that I live in Seattle full time, I can experience the charms of Fremont regularly and it has still not worn out on me.
What hammers the character (and there is a lot of it) of the neighborhood is when someone crosses the bridge and finds the distinct sign “Welcome to Fremont- Center of the Universe, please set your watches back 5 minutes.” That statement speaks volumes about the personality of the neighborhood, which is fun and a little bit of the best kind of funky. The entire neighborhood has a laid back feel to it that is at odds to the businesslike demeanor of adjacent neighborhoods.
A major contributor is the visual appeal of Fremont. In addition to ideal location over the water and near some great bridges, there neighborhood teems with little visual landmarks, none of which are grand, but all of which are memorable. The statue of Lenin, the troll, the Fremont Bridge with Rapunzel, and the statue of the boating group (always in some kind of costume) lets you know you are in Fremont.
The food, too, shares the vibe. While all the food is fabulous, from such places as Blue C Sushi, the 35th Street Bistro and others, none of them feel like they are overly posh or elegant, in keeping with the friendly far-out nature of Fremont. Plenty of bars are around as well, with some of the big names being the Red Door and Dubliner, but it has enough smaller places that all personalities can be accommodated.
What crowns Fremont, though, is the events. Most regular of them all is the SundayMarket, which covers a huge area and boasts an even larger selection of goods, ranging from fresh produce to yard statues made out of bent pieces of aluminum. And this is all done with the friendly atmosphere that makes a visitor feel like family. More striking is the Summer Solstice parade, where a brigade of naked bikers passes through.