Last week, several of us took a walking tour of the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle. Fremont is a colorful, eclectic neighborhood filled with public art, sculptures, boutiques, cafes, and a lively atmosphere. Its residents are full of neighborhood pride and affectionately call their town "The Center of the Universe"!!
For those of you who were unable to join us on the tour, I've put a self-guided version of the tour here, so you can head to Fremont on your own or with friends and family, and take the tour yourselves ;-)
If you go on a Sunday, the famous Fremont Farmer's Market is open!
Start your tour at the corner of N. 34th Street and Fremont Ave. N, in front of Peet's Coffee. Head across the Fremont Bridge for a view of the Ship Canal and a closer look at the drawbridge:
This drawbridge was finished in 1917. It is a very low bridge, so it opens an average of 35 times a day, making it the most frequently opened bridge in the U.S. A neon Rapunzel, added in 1995, can be seen in the window of the northwest tower of the bridge. The Welcome to Fremont silly sign (shown above) can be found at the entrance to the Fremont neighborhood, on the on the southeast side of the Fremont drawbridge.
Look to the east of the Fremont Bridge and you will see the beautiful Aurora Bridge:
This beautiful bridge, also known as the George Washington Memorial Bridge, was finished in 1932. It is 165 ft. above the water. Sadly, over 230 people have died by jumping off the bridge, so in 2006, emergency telephones with suicide hotlines were added in several places along the span, and in 2011 an anti-suicide fence was installed.
Walk back across the drawbridge toward Fremont and at the end of the bridge you will see Seattle's most decorated public sculpture, Waiting for the Interurban:
Waiting for the Interurban:
A cast aluminum sculpture built in 1979. It depicts several people waiting for the trolley that used to run between Fremont and downtown Seattle. The locals frequently dress the statue in different clothing and costumes, just for fun or to promote a cause.
Walk east along 34th Street and you will come to the next piece of art, a sculpture of 2 dancing clowns:
JP Patches and Gertrude:
A bronze statue unveiled in 2008, depicting the famous Seattle clown J.P. Patches and his co-star Gertrude. J.P. Patches was a local favorite of Seattle children since 1958. His children’s TV show was extremely popular here. He died of cancer last month (July 22, 2012). All money collected in the coin bank on the statue goes directly to support the Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Patches was a frequent visitor to entertain the children.
Continue on 34th Street, then turn left at the History House (with a fun, colorful, and flowery gate) and head up Troll Ave., underneath the Aurora Bridge. At the top of the hill, lurking beneath the shadows of the bridge, you will see the famous Fremont Troll:
This scary-looking “troll under the bridge” is clutching a real Volkswagen Beetle! The one-eyed troll is 18 ft. tall and is made of steel rebar, wire, and concrete. It was built in 1990, and obtained instant fame.
Turn left at the troll and walk along N. 36th, then turn left onto Fremont Ave. N. In the middle of the intersection of Fremont Ave. and 35th St., you'll see the colorful directional signs:
Fremont jokes that it is the “Center of the Universe” and these colorful markers point the way to all other places, such as the Louvre, the North Pole, Machu Picchu, and Taiwan!!
Also on this street, you'll see the Vintage Mall shop:
Pop in this fun and funky vintage shop that carries all sorts of clothing and other odds & ends from earlier days.
From the directional markers, continue west on Fremont Place, and at the corner of N. 36th St. you'll see the huge statue of Lenin:
This towering statue of Lenin was originally erected in Poprad, Czechoslovakia in 1988, but was toppled a year later when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. The statue then lay face down in the mud at the Poprad dump until an American English teacher from Issaquah, WA saw the statue, admired it, and mortgaged his house to purchase it and transport it back to the U.S.!! It was installed in Fremont as public art in 1995, amid much controversy. The statue is actually for sale and waiting for a buyer… the price: $250,000.00. Any takers??
Turn left from the statue and walk down Evanston Ave. Look up as you walk and you'll see the Fremont Rocket at the top of the entry to a store:
A 55 ft. 1950’s military-style rocket installed for no other reason than to be something interesting to look at and photograph in Fremont!
From here, head down N. 35th St. for 1 long block to Phinney Ave., where you'll catch a whiff of chocolate and come to the famous Seattle chocolate factory:
A specialty chocolate-maker, using only fair-trade, organic products to make their uniquely flavored chocolates. Inside, you can taste some interesting chocolate…beware of the “chile chocolate”- it’s really spicy!! If you have time, you can take an hour-long tour of the factory (go online or call ahead for reservations: www.theochocolate.com)
As you exit the chocolate store, continue one block down Phinney Ave., toward the water, where you'll find a pair of green, leafy dinosaurs:
A pair of friendly topiary dinosaurs- mom& child in the park along the Ship Canal.
This completes the tour, but save time to hang out in Fremont longer and pop in some of the fun boutiques and tasty cafes! If it's a Sunday, visit the Fremont Farmer's Market. Enjoy!