Last Updated on March 17, 2023 by Sammie
You Must Check Out the Original Fremont Troll in Seattle
I knew I liked Seattle. The city is weird and kooky and is home to the Original Fremont Troll under the bridge.
This giant cement statue of a troll ready to crush a VW Beetle, or potentially throw it into the sea, guards this nook of the city. Once a garbage pit of needles and old mattresses, the original hunched-back Fremont Troll, has transformed this part of the neighborhood.
My french croissant boyfriend and I were lucky enough to have a local friend show us around and give us a few pointers on things we shouldn’t miss. I had been to Seattle once before with my sister and had hit some of the more common sites. There’s the gloriously disgusting gum wall, the ever so slightly underwhelming original Starbucks (still loved it though), and the magical Pike Place Market. I was ready for something new, something weird, something maybe adorable? Apparently, I was looking for a one-eyed, scraggly-haired, waist-deep-in-mud, giant troll statue.
Fun Fact: The troll weights 13,000 lbs.
Obviously, I loved it and so did my Frenchman. But I needed more. Why a troll? Why here? What is happening and why don’t we have one in Chicago?
Here is my investigation.
What is the Fremont Troll Statue?
The Fremont Troll is an 18-foot cement sculpture under the Aurora Bridge that was created by a team of 4 artists. Steve Badanes led the sculpting crew with a posse of volunteers as part of a city arts competition held in 1989. The troll took 3 months to build. It’s made of rebar steel, wire, and ferrocement—wickedly strong cement typically used to make boats.
Fun Fact: The original Fremont Troll was holding an actual Volkswagen car with a “time capsule” and Elvis Presley bust. When vandals broke in and stole the Elvis Presley bust, the community decided to fill/cover the car with cement to prevent other vandals from doing something similar.
Why was it Created?
The competition was brought upon after the city started the Neighborhood Matching Fun. Something that was created to give the residents more decision-making power. A hop, skip and jump later, the Fremont Arts Council (a neighborhood community arts program) received a grant to “beautify” the spot under the Aurora Bridge.
The troll is based off of the Norweigan children’s folktale, Three Billy Goats Gruff. Badanes said at a time of skyrocketing prices in the real estate industry after the tech boom, the troll, and the crushed VW Beetle were to represent an anti-development statement.
Fremont had been a place filled with eclectic artists and craftsmen. At the time of sculpting the piece, the waterfront was under “attack”. A big-time realtor wanted to raise the harbor and demolish all of the shops and art studios. “The troll was a kind of protest to that”.-Steve Badanes.
Fun Fact: The Fremont Troll makes its Blockbuster debut in the movie “10 Things I Hate About You”.
How to get to the Fremont Troll?
Address: N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103
The Fremont Troll is located under the north end of the Aurora Bridge (George Washington Memorial Bridge).
Walk along N 34th Street in the OPPOSITE direction of the Fremont Sunday Markets for 5-10 minutes.
Fremont Troll FAQs
Do you have to pay to see the Fremont Troll?
Where can you park at the Fremont Troll?
Parking can be difficult, there is no on-site parking. The closest parking is 3615 Fremont Avenue North, Seattle. If you can, use public transit to get there.
How old is the Fremont Troll?
Created in 1990, he is 33 years old.
Make sure you check out the cute little path to the right of the statue, “Troll’s Knoll Forest”.
The Fremont Troll is a beautiful representation of what public art can do. I appreciate the city making strides to keep its corkiness and beauty alive amidst the strife that so many metropolitan cities are experiencing these days.
The act of invigorating public spaces with unique creations can humanize a space. It brings visitors and appreciation to all corners of the city, some more forgotten than others. Besides reflecting the community it is in, public displays of art are an important window into the past, present, and future of local communities. A lot can be understood of a neighborhood around an art piece that might not be written down on paper. Wandering the streets, and discovering what the community wants to display for its residents and visitors can be as good as having a conversation with the neighborhood itself.
If you enjoyed what you read, please feel free to share!