Fremont: Seattle, Washington
The self-proclaimed "Center of the Universe," this 215-acre "urban village" has evolved throughout the decades as a colorful haven where everyone is welcome. Fremont is known as an important local crossroads community at the north end of the Fremont Bridge with 125-year-old roots. The neighborhood supports maritime and local industrial activities and maintains a distinct identity through its collection of art, craft, antique, specialty goods stores, and a diverse range of local entrepreneurs.
Bounded by Lake Washington Ship Canal to the south, Stone Way North to the east, 8th Avenue NW to the west, and North 50th Street to the north.
The neighborhood is situated along the canal linking Lake Union to Salmon Bay. The tree-lined waterway, valley of green and residential hillsides, iconic Fremont Bridge, and George Washington Bridge create breathtaking views. The neighborhood makes great use of its local streets and former streetcar arterials that create unusual block shapes, lined with traditional street front-scaled buildings exhibiting early 20th century architectural styles.
Since the 1960s, Fremont residents have nurtured a vibrant atmosphere through art for public enjoyment. Iconic art pieces include the whimsical "Waiting for the Interurban" sculpture that invites participatory decoration, the larger-than-life Fremont Troll grasping a VW under the Aurora Bridge, a prominent statue of Lenin brought from Russia, a rocket, planets, world mileage signpost, and topiary dinosaurs.
The neighborhood is home to many tech-intensive tenants such as Adobe, Google, and Tableau as well as the original Red Hook Brewery. Fremont has a several public interest organizations to advocate for the entirety of the neighborhood including the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Fremont Arts Council, Fremont Neighborhood Council, and Solid Ground. The neighborhood is famous for the annual Solstice parade, a gathering of streaking, body-painted, costumed bicycle riders.
Defining Characteristics, Features
- The neighborhood is named after Fremont, Nebraska, hometown of its founders L.H. Griffith and E. Blewett
- Neighborhood origins date back to 1888 when it was initially platted; originally a separate city and later annexed to Seattle (1891)
- Fremont was shaped by its earliest industries such as lumber and shingle mills and as an iron foundry; later by the extension of railroad and streetcar lines, and the digging of the Ship Canal around the turn of the 20th century
- The neighborhood experienced decline after the George Washington Bridge (1930) enabled the bypass of automobile traffic, and after rail and streetcar service was discontinued (1940)
- During the 1960s, Fremont attracted the interest of students, bohemians, and artists, marking the beginnings of its current identity
Planning and Community Engagement
- The Fremont Neighborhood Plan (1999) documents the visions and actions recommended to improve the neighborhood's character as it grows, including concepts such as a mosaic urban design strategy, public view protection, street traffic safety measures, and greater public involvement in future development
- Using a "small and simple" grant from Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods, Fremont is adding another P-Patch community garden, enabling more personal gardening opportunities for residents
- Local residents are embracing solar power technology, with more than 150 solar installations between Fremont and the adjoining Wallingford neighborhood
- Solid Ground provides a food bank, housing programs, job training, transportation and other programs serving more than 55,000 local residents
Physical Attributes and Amenities
- The Lake Washington Ship Canal (1917) provides the only connection between Seattle's freshwater lakes and Puget Sound
- The Burke-Gilman Trail, extended to the neighborhood in the 1980s, provides a continuous pedestrian and cycle route linking University of Washington to the east near Lake Washington's shore, and west to Ballard
- Office complexes along the river, permitted by Quadrant Development, underwent an intensive public design review process to ensure they would provide amenities such as plazas, through-access to the water's edge, and designs that complement the traditional scale and brick building forms in the neighborhood
- The newer "Epicenter" is a mixed-use development on the corner of North 34th Street and Fremont Avenue North; underwent a design review to ensure that the result was colorful, distinctive, and supportive of the pedestrian-oriented street character
Arts and Entertainment
- Fremont Arts Council organized a national art competition (1989) to creatively use the space under the Aurora Bridge; "The Troll" was created by a team calling itself the Jersey Devils and led by sculptor Steve Badanes; the 5.5-meter-high statue is a troll crushing a VW Beetle
- Richard Beyer's "Waiting for the Interurban" is a Fremont icon and frequently targeted in "art attacks" where people are encouraged to dress up the statues in celebration of local events
- A few of the neighborhood's annual events include Fremont Outdoor Movies, Fremont Oktoberfest, Annual Geocaching Block Party, Fremont Fair and Fremont Arts Council Solstice Parade, Mobile Food Truck Rodeo, Fremont Hopscotch
- The neighborhood is a popular magnet for nightlife with numerous local restaurants and alehouses