The Fremont Troll (Seattle, Washington)

Fremont Troll
Photo by Roshan Vyas

Hiding underneath a bridge is pretty much exactly where you’d expect to find a troll, but the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Washington raised the bar on Halloween in 1990 when they unveiled an 18 foot tall concrete troll, crushing a Volkswagen Beetle under the Aurora bridge. The Fremont troll was designed by Donna Walter, Ross Whitehead, Steve Badanes, and Will Martin, with Badanes taking lead on the project as he had a strong background in construction.

The Fremont Troll started in early 1990, when the Fremont Arts Council sponsored a design competition for something uniquely Washington to live in the space under the bridge. The competition was  intended to add a little art to the neighborhood, but also to rehabilitate the area under the bridge. In the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s, there were some serious drug issues in the pacific northwest, and the large space under the Aurora Bridge had become something of a haven for drug dealers. With his shining hubcap of an eye and untrustworthy southward glare, the Fremont Troll was the obvious winner.

The Fremont Troll is a mixed media sculpture made of steel rebar, wire, and concrete, that was designed to serve as an interactive space. Respectful climbing on the troll and posing for photos are encouraged, and the increased traffic to the area are one of the ways this troll helps keep the neighborhood safe. The troll under the bridge is the embodiment of the type of art that can’t help but to become a roadside attraction. It’s the type of art that makes an impact on a community in a positive way, and should serve as a beacon that the world needs more hidden sculptures and creatures out there to keep our cities safe.

In true Fremont fashion, the troll is honored each Halloween when the “Troll-O-Ween” party kicks off under the bridge and wanders to other public art installations and bars throughout the neighborhood.

Fremont Troll Facts

  • The Volkswagen Beetle is being crushed by the trolls left hand and he only has a left eye.
  • The Troll is just a few blocks east of The Lenin Bronze of Fremont. The United States’ largest sculpture of the Russian Communist Party leader.
  • The crushed car and out-of-state plate were meant as protests against outsider development that was quickly making Seattle unaffordable for locals in the late 90’s.
  • The Beetle originally contained a time capsule filled with Elvis memorabilia but it was removed after the car was vandalized and the California license plate was stolen.
  • The Fremont Troll is located on N. 36th Street at Troll Avenue N.,
  • The Troll technically lived under the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge, but pretty much every Seattleite calls it the Aurora Bridge.
  • The Troll is 5.5 m (18 ft) high, and weighs 6,000 kg (13,000 lb).