So, how is the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle different?
Well, imagine two people standing right next to each other. One of them has a fresh-pressed outfit on with straight, slick hair - this is Wallingford. The other person has a grungy, ripped-jeans outfit with jagged, pink hair - this is Fremont. Neither is better than the other, they're just different. I mean, it has a big statue of fun-loving Vladimir Lenin slap bang in the middle. Yes, that Lenin! Plus, it just goes to show that Seattle has a neighborhood for just about anyone and everyone.
Fremont, the self-declared The Center of the Universe, has a vibe that is quirky and bohemian-centric. You can find a plant shop (or a store that has plants on every windowsill) on just about any street. On the other hand, it still bustles with business hi-techies who work at Google, Adobe, and Tableau Software. In Fremont, you've really got it all with stunning art, tempting food choices, and peculiar shops.
If there was one word to describe Fremont, it would be edgy (in a good way). With a population of around 10,000, it's considered to be one of the smaller Seattle neighborhoods. Other useful stats: the average age of people living in Fremont is 32 years, and the majority of housing units were built in 1939 or earlier.
Fremont's southernmost edge runs along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, while the other side of the lake brings you to North Queen Anne. To the northwest of Fremont is West Woodland; to the north, Phinney Ridge; to the northeast, Wallingford; and to the southeast, Northlake. Fremont is a gateway to Queen Anne, Ballard, Wallingford, and downtown. For this reason, along with the Fremont Bridge blocking things up, there is usually a substantial amount of congestion that unfolds during rush hour.
To get downtown by car, commute time is normally around 12-30 minutes. Bus lines 5, 26 and 28 will all get you downtown in a little over 20 minutes. If traveling by bike, which is a fairly popular option, you'll take Dexter Avenue for about four miles and be there in 30 minutes. No matter which option you choose, you're not losing much time by taking one option over the other.
Luther Griffith and Edward Blewett are credited with starting the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle. In 1866, Blewett settled in Fremont, Nebraska. From there, he had many business ventures across the world including Washington. If you've heard of Blewett Pass, this is the guy who made it happen. In 1888, Blewett and his wife bought a newly-cleared piece of land in Seattle and named it after their hometown. Welcome to Fremont, Seattle.
The Lake Washington Ship Canal connects fresh-water Lake Washington to salt-water Puget Sound. As early as 1854, there was a discussion of a needed pathway to transport logs, milled lumber, and fishing vessels in between the bodies of water. Eighty years later, in 1934, the canal project was completed.
The Fremont Bridge, which crosses over the Lake Washington Ship Canal, is one of the most frequently opened drawbridges due to only 30 feet of vessel clearance. Hence the bottle-neck traffic congestion at times. The bridge's vivid, some would say, atrocious, blue and orange colors have quite the history. Long story short - in 1984, the City announced plans to paint over the bridge's ever-chipping orange color. They conducted a survey of which color to paint it next, and to the communities' dismay, orange wasn't an option.
After lengthy outcries and debates, the people got what they wanted, and the bridge was painted blue with orange highlights. Terry Denton, past-president of the Fremont Neighborhood Council, quoted, "The bridge ought to be orange, not because it is the prettiest color, but because the orange bridge is a symbol of Fremont's continuing renewal and development."
Better than the smell of McDonald's French fries, delicious, bold chocolate wafts throughout Fremont. If you follow the mesmerizing smell, you'll land at a red-bricked Theo Chocolate, a (literal) chocolate factory. Founded in 2005, Theo was the first organic, fair-trade certified chocolate maker in North America. Here's an idea: watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then take your kids on one of Theo's factory tours. Boom, Parent of the Year Award. They also offer a variety of chocolate-inspired classes all the way from "Yoga and Chocolate" to "Chocolate Bark Making".
Seattle's Fremont neighborhood is famous for its variety of public art. While many don't find it to be extravagant, the Fremont Troll is quite the sight. Ever since the Aurora Bridge was constructed in 1932, there have been tales of trolls underneath. After the bridge was built, it became a haven for dumping and space for drug dealers to conduct business. In 1989, Steve Badanes designed the Fremont Troll to rehabilitate the area. Watch out - if you're not expecting it, this Seattle landmark will jump right out at you!
The Lenin Statue, which weighs over seven tons and stands 16 feet in the air is believed to be the only portrayal of Lenin as a violent revolutionist, as opposed to a smiling man with a book in his hands. Needless to say, whether the status should still be allowed to say in place is a source of endless debate.
Standing 53-feet tall on the corner of North 36th Street and Evanston Ave North, the Fremont Rocket is an icon that was built using the tail boom of Fairchild Flying Boxcar' transport aircraft. You thought we were done with landmarks, but the best is always saved for last. A multi-colored guidepost at the intersection of North Fremont Avenue and North 35th Street is said to be the Center of the Universe, officially being claimed as such by the Metropolitan King County Council in 1994. Plus it' advises you to set your watch for 5 minutes ahead!
If you're out and about, you'll probably notice some notable companies within Fremont's midst including Google, Tableau Software and Adobe. It really is a one-place-for-all.
The Fremont Sunday Market has been up and running since 1990 and is well-known for its year-long debut. The blocked-off street hosts over 200 vendors offering street-food, handmade crafts, vintage finds and bouquets of flowers. Oktoberfest is Seattle's largest beer festival. With over 100 beers and ciders to choose from, axe-throwing, DJs rapping, and chainsaw pumpkin-carving, it's quite the party.
To celebrate human expression, the Fremont Solstice Parade is hosted by the Fremont Arts Council. With more than 60 community-based ensembles galavanting down the streets of Fremont, everyone is encouraged to be their own artist. This is one of the most fun summer events in Seattle so get there early to get a good viewing spot. And yes, there will be naked cyclists, regardless of the prevailing weather and temperature.
The bar and brewery scene in Fremont in Seattle doesn't disappoint. Fremont Brewing, a dog- and kid-friendly, free pretzel-providing beer hall is bound to be packed on a sunny day with outdoor and indoor communal seating. Don't fret if beer isn't your cup of tea. Schilling Cider House has you covered with every cider under the sun from seasonal picks to semi sweets. The Backdoor at Roxy's, dark-lit and vintage-y, is a craft cocktail bar serving everything from mac & cheese to quesadillas. You'd think a large dinosaur head hanging from the wall would be a turn-off, but Stampede Cocktail Club, with its big outdoor patio and colorful lights wins the hearts of many.
Nectar Lounge, the ever-so-popular music venue is impressively the largest indoor/outdoor music venue in Seattle. There are so many great bar options in Fremont, so here's one more for good measure and by far the most fun of them all: Add-A-Ball is an arcade bar with the largest collection of coin-operated arcade games in Seattle and so many pinball machines, it'll make you dizzy.
To satisfy the caffeinated, Fremont Coffee Company is the closest you'll get to the classic, neighborhood coffee shop. A little more upscale and experience-oriented, Cafe Con Todo allows you to drink your beverage while hanging from a hammock. Be sure to get there early if you want that spot. With locations all over Seattle, Caffe Vita offers a woodsy, clean space. Vif Wine|Coffee serves both wine and coffee. Whoever came up with that idea is a genius.
With brunch options galore and quite possibly the most beloved of Fremont's food offerings is rustic and springy Stoneway Cafe. When you're out wondering where you should grab for a quick bite to eat, Uneeda Burger is the perfect little roadside-style burger shack. If you're looking for something a little different, Fremont Bowl serves bowl-style Japanese comfort food. Now, if you have a little bonus money to spend, Eve Fremont and Agrodolce are both upscale, farm-to-table restaurants. For your pizza needs, Lupo and Frelard Pizza Company have you covered. For the sweet and savory, Flying Apron has custom cakes, cupcakes, dessert buffets, pastries, and breads.
The Fremont Canal Park, which runs linearly along the Lake Washington Ship Canal and adjacent to the Burke Gilman Trail offers a serene community gathering place, especially for lunch breaks or casual bike rides. Half an acre in size, Fremont Peak Park has open views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. Located west of the Fremont Troll, Troll's Knolls Park is small but provides access to other areas in Fremont.
Small and mighty Fremont has a few schools including B.F. Day Elementary School, Fremont Community School (preschool, afternoon programs, child care), and Pacific Crest School (ages three - 8th grade).