Fremont: An Independent State of Mind

The cool thing about living in Seattle is experiencing all our neighborhoods.  Each has their own character, attitude, and story.  One quirky neighborhood whose story has not had much attention is Fremont.  Finally, its rich history has been brought to light by a man named Michael Falcone.  Falcone created a documentary not only about Fremont and it’s coming to life but about art, community, and The Troll that sits under our Aurora Bridge. The Documentary is called The Hall of Giants: The Story of Fremont and the Troll and it begins by explaining Fremont’s beginning.

Fremont, also known as the “Center of the Universe”, started as a mill town.   Fremont was actually considered a low income area…who would have thought?  So where did the life and color of today’s Fremont come from?  Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s Fremont was home to mainly hippies, students and artists.  Falcone’s documentary features a lot of the pioneers of Fremont, some still live in the area and some have since moved on.  He focuses mainly on a core group of people who are the foundation of Fremont’s artist roots.  The film portrays the perfect storm of people being in the right place at the right time, exploring art and making it a trademark in the neighborhood’s streets.

Stemming from the organization of a new solstice parade and the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture, the idea to create a community art piece came about from these core people forming the Fremont Arts Council.  Art was believed to make a stronger neighborhood; it brought people together forming a real sense of inspiration.  The thought was if you fill a community with art, less vandalism will occur.  Instead of throwing trash under the bridge like people had been doing for years, people will instead be stopping by to admire the art and appreciating the neighborhood more.

After a late model submission by some UW students and a community vote at the Fremont Fair, The Troll was chosen to represent Fremont in 1990. Steve Badanes, one of the Troll’s artists,  explains why The Troll was a great choice for Fremont.  Badanes saying trolls are quiet in nature and stay to themselves unless they are aroused.  The VW Bug clasp in his hand shows the uncertainty about The Troll, he keeps people in check! The Students made three models before final design was confirmed.  One idea was having The Troll grabbing a column of the bridge but that was quickly shut down.  Next a model of The Troll sitting on top of a vehicle but it just didn’t seem like the right positioning.  Third time was a charm though and what you see today was the final creation.

Our Troll quite possibly has one of the most beautiful views in the city.  His glazing eye stares down the Hall of Giants, also known as the cathedral of Fremont, dedicated to the men who built the Aurora Bridge.  This often unseen view is spectacular.  Not many turn around while visiting The Troll so check it out next time!  Falcone’s documentary shows the process of building The Troll and the material used to create it.  It only took a couple months to build but it built a lifetime of camaraderie in the community, memories and friendships that will never be lost.

The documentary takes you on a journey to the past, a past when the way of life was different.  Fremont may not be the same today but Michael Falcone shared memories that would have never been known otherwise.  He did an amazing job showing a community formed by art and how art really made a neighborhood stronger.


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