All About the Seattle Fremont Troll and How to Find It
What sort of monster lurks under the bridge in Fremont? Just the thought of it makes you want to curl up in bed. Lucky for us, it turns out to be a friendly one.
Aurora Bridge was erected in the Fremont section of Seattle in 1932. Soon rumors began that trolls were living under the steep bridge. Whether those unseen trolls still live under the bridge today is unknown, but what we do know is that there is now a giant troll who makes his permanent home underneath the bridge: The Fremont Troll.
Where Does the Troll Reside?
The Fremont Troll lives under the north end of the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington. It is probably the most famous troll statue residing under a bridge in the entire United States of America. Part of the troll's address actually is North Troll Ave.
Why the Troll?
In 1990 Fremont residents were called upon to vote on the theme for the sculpture under the bridge. They were given numerous proposals to pick from.They picked the troll. “Seattle could use a little sense of humor,” one activist commented.
Fremont is a neighborhood in northern Seattle. It lies along the banks of a canal and has a very hippy or hipster feel to it. The area is home to a lot of tech residents as well as a lot of more artsy types. Every Sunday, the Fremont Sunday Market has a huge fair with all sorts of vendors ranging from art and antiques to food trucks.
History of the Area and the Troll
The Fremont Arts Council began an art competition back in 1989 in an attempt to rehabilitate the area under the Aurora bridge. At that time, the area had become a haven for drug abuse and drug dealers. The art contract was awarded later that year to sculptor Steve Badanes along with Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead .
Steve’s inspiration for his new work was the folktale known as The Three Billy Goats Gruff. He used the troll in that story as a model for the Fremont Troll.
When making the troll, Steve used rebar steel, wire, and two tons of messy ferroconcrete to construct an 18 feet tall troll.
“We used 80 sacks of cement and 7 yards of sand on the upper structure of the troll, including the skin and hair, and I believe, two yards of concrete for the foundation,” architect Ross Whitehead said of the creature with a shiny metal eye that is busy crushing a stone Volkswagen Beetle in its left hand.
Today, the troll is an active and interactive piece of artwork. People climb all over the troll and the VW Beetle he clutches menacingly in his hefty hand. For anyone who doesn’t know what he is, a convenient plaque stands in front of him telling the troll’s story.
In addition to being built as a public landmark and statue, the Fremont Troll was also built with the intent that its audience would get down and dirty and climb all over it. Mission successful! Every day people climb all over the troll. It is an interactive exhibit. Just the troll’s face and posture alone encourage people to interact with it.
Elvis and the Troll
Did you know? The Volkswagen Beetle the troll is crushing originally contained a time capsule full of Elvis memorabilia. It had to be removed after the car was vandalized and its California license plates were stolen.
What If I Can’t Get to Seattle to See the Troll?
If you can’t get to the Fremont Troll in person, then try going to Carel Struycken’s Troll page where she has put up a page with a 360 view of the troll.
The Fremont Troll in Popular Culture
The Fremont Troll has appeared in several movies and TV shows, including:
- 10 Things I Hate About You,
- The Twilight Saga,
- Once Upon a Time (on different episodes),
- Sleepless in Seattle,
- and Death Note.
Quotes From Visitors to the Fremont Troll
When visitors see the troll they often have a lot to say. Here are just a few reactions from the troll's admirers.
“Free and totally worth the hype. It's as big as you'd think it'd be. You can definitely climb all over it, although you may need a little help from someone if you are height challenged like me haha. Loved how the troll is holding an actual car too!”
"It worth seeing. It's a great example of how Seattle can incorporate art into the daily life. It's a great photo opportunity.
There is some street parking but can get crowded. It's easier to go in off times and rainy days. If you go really early you will have less people in your picture with the troll!
Nerdy pro: he is under an amazing example of trusses aka a beautiful bridge. From an engineering perspective, I love the bridge view in the other direction of the troll."
“Driving towards this troll under the bridge on a rainy and bleak afternoon was the best! It was so creepy looking towards it with its one eye glimmering from a distance and the thought of it crawling towards you. Seattle has so many public art installations and this is by far my favorite! It was also featured in a scene from the movie 10 Things I Hate about You. It is huge and is right under the bridge. A great photo op for tourists, takes only a few minutes out of your time, and well worth it.”
The Fremont Troll is an enormous sculputure placed perfectly for a troll - under a bridge. It is fun for the whole family to see and play on, so be sure to take a look at it the next time you are in Seattle.
Also, take time to stroll through Fremont. The neighborhood is cozy and has many more statues and other curiosities to look at along with a number of charming shops and good places to eat. So, make a day of it!
Have You Ever Seen the Fremont Troll?
The Fremont Troll
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© 2018 Teeuwynn Woodruff