What’s the Story Behind the Fremont Troll?

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In the heart of Seattle, the Emerald City, you’ll find a troll under a bridge in the Fremont neighborhood.

This 18-foot concrete statue has become an iconic landmark and a popular tourist attraction. Although “hidden” underneath the George Washington Memorial Bridge, the Fremont Troll stands 18 feet high and took three months to create. 

So what’s the story behind this unique piece of art? Let’s learn more about this eccentric giant!

What Is the Fremont Troll?

The Fremont Troll, also known as the Troll Under the Bridge, is a colossal public sculpture in Seattle, Wash. It holds a Volkswagen Beetle in its hand as it appears to crawl underneath the George Washington Memorial Bridge. 

From the ground to the top of its head, the Fremont Troll stands 18 feet high. Its steel, rebar, wire, and concrete body weighs approximately 13,000 pounds.

Where Is the Fremont Troll?

Located in the northern Seattle neighborhood of Fremont, the Troll looks to be crawling underneath the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge of Highway 99. You’ll find it in Troll’s Knoll Park off North 36th Street.

Why Was the Fremont Troll Sculpted?

In 1990, the Fremont Arts Council held an art competition to deter homelessness in the area.

The land under the bridge was littered with beer cans, mattresses, and trash. The council hoped a piece of art would become the focal point instead. 

The Fremont Troll, created by four local artists, became the winning sculpture and has become a cultural icon of Seattle.

What’s the Story Behind the Troll Icon?

Artists Steve Badanes, Donna Walter, Will Martin, and Ross Whitehead won the art competition in 1990.

The idea of a troll came as a result of Nordic folklore. According to this tradition, trolls lived in isolated places like mountains or caves and were unkind to humans.

Scandinavian folklore continued this perception as they believed trolls were dangerous to humans. These creatures were old and strong but not very intelligent. When the sun rose, trolls turned to stone.

Thus, the artists created the Fremont Troll under the bridge to deter vandalism, littering, and sleeping. Over the years, people have vandalized the troll, but local activists continue to heap concrete on it to cover up the markings. So it keeps getting bigger year after year.

Is There Parking at the Fremont Troll?

You won’t find a parking lot near the Fremont Troll since it’s located underneath a bridge at a dead-end street. Parking can be a challenge. 

However, if you park farther out, you can stroll through the Fremont neighborhood and head to the bridge to see the troll.

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Other Nearby Unique Attractions in Seattle, WA

If quirky, unique roadside attractions interest you, you’ll find plenty of other quirky places to visit in Seattle, Wash.

Here are three popular attractions near the Fremont Troll that you can easily see in the same afternoon.

The Berlin Wall at Cafe Turko

Located around the corner from the Fremont Troll is a Turkish cafe with a chunk of concrete that once belonged to the Iron Curtain.

When it closed, the local “History House” museum gave this 6-foot-by-12-foot slab of rebar and concrete to Cafe Turko. Today it stands as another iconic symbol of the Fremont community.

Center of the Universe Sign

In 1991, a group of scientists at a bar decided to put up a guidepost in the Fremont neighborhood, claiming that it was the center of the universe — or close enough.

Situated on a traffic island at the intersection of North Fremont Avenue and North 35th Street, this marker is just a street over from the Fremont Troll. 

It also directs tourists to many of the neighborhood’s iconic landmarks like the troll, Rapunzel, Interurban, and the Sunday Market and some faraway places like Rio de Janeiro, Taiwan, and the Louvre.

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J.P. Patches Statue

Located near the Center of the Universe signpost, you’ll find the J.P. Patches statue. This iconic Seattle clown is a tribute to the children’s program the J.P. Patches Show, which premiered on KIRO-TV Channel 7 in Seattle in 1958.

Chris Wedes played Julius Pierpont Patches. Bob Newman played the 10 other supporting cast characters. The show aired live for 13 years before cutting back on performances. It officially went off-air in 1981.

On August 17, 2008, the J.P. Patches statue was unveiled in the Fremont neighborhood. Today, visitors can leave buttons on Patches’ jacket and donations, which go to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Is a Visit to the Fremont Troll Worth It?

The Fremont Troll is just one of the numerous colorful landmarks north of the city center. Seattle has a vibrant arts scene and eclectic culture, so these quirky attractions fit right in.

Whether you want to claim to be in the center of the universe or want to take a selfie with a gigantic concrete troll, you’ll find plenty of fun roadside attractions to entertain you for a couple of hours in the Fremont neighborhood.

Have you ever visited the Fremont Troll?

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