Fremont Troll

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Fremont Troll
The Troll
ArtistSteve Badanes
Will Martin
Donna Walter
Ross Whitehead
Year1990 (1990)
Dimensions5.5 m (18 ft)
CoordinatesCoordinates: 47°39′03″N 122°20′50″W / 47.650955°N 122.34728°W / 47.650955; -122.34728 (Fremont Troll)
OwnerCity of Seattle

The Fremont Troll (also known as The Troll, or the Troll Under the Bridge) is a public sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Washington in the United States.


Sign for "Troll Avenue"

The Troll is a mixed media colossal statue, located on N. 36th Street at Troll Avenue N., under the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge (also known as the Aurora Bridge). It is clutching an actual Volkswagen Beetle, as if it had just swiped it from the roadway above. The vehicle has a California license plate.[1] Originally, the car held a time capsule, including a plaster bust of Elvis Presley, which was stolen when the sculpture was vandalized.[2][3]

The Troll is 18 ft (5.5 m) high, weighs 13,000 lb (5,900 kg), and is made of steel rebar, wire, and concrete.[4]

Artists and inspiration[edit]

The Troll was sculpted by four local artists: Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead. The idea of a troll living under a bridge is derived from the Scandinavian (Norwegian) folklore.

The artists have copyright to the Troll images. They have sued businesses that use its image commercially without written permission.[5] Postcards, beer, and other products approved by the artists are commercially available, and use is free to non-profit organizations.[6]


Plaque for the sculpture

In 1990, the Fremont Arts Council launched an art competition for the area under the bridge with the intent to construct hostile architecture to deter the presence of "rodents, mattresses, beer cans, [and] guys sleeping" there, believing that the solution to the issue was "having a piece of art" instead. The piece, built later that same year, easily won the competition, and was meant to become a cultural icon of the city from its conception.[7] The vote in favor of the "funky" troll was also motivated of concerns about increased development in Fremont, including numerous large apartment buildings and an office park, damaging the largely residential neighborhood's "historic character" at the time.[8]

The construction of the troll provoked immediate complaints from homeless people who previously lived under the bridge, and in 1991, just a year after it was erected, neighbors funded powerful floodlights to deter squatters and "late-night revelers" from acts of vandalism targeting the troll's beard and hair,[9] as well as the continued dumping of trash around it by homeless people who used to live there.[10] Despite the intent of the arts council, the sculpture has periodically been the target of vandalism,[7] although local activists have made efforts to clean graffiti on a regular basis,[11] and the city of Seattle has swept homeless encampments adjacent to the sculpture following repeated drug overdoses in January 2019;[12] from January to mid-May alone, the city received 28 complaints about needles or homelessness within a block of the sculpture.[13]

In 2005, the segment of Aurora Avenue North under the bridge, running downhill from the Troll to North 34th Street was renamed "Troll Avenue" in honor of the sculpture.[14] In 2011 the Fremont Arts Council licensed a Chia Pet based on the Fremont Troll that was sold at a local drug store chain.[15] In 2016, the Chicago rock band Majungas released "The Fremont Troll" off their Seattle Rock album.[16][17]

In 2022, the Seattle Kraken introduced Buoy, a mascot said to be the Fremont Troll's nephew.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

The 1999 romantic comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You features the Fremont Troll in a scene between Joseph Gordon-Levitt's and Larisa Oleynik's characters.

The seventh and final season of the ABC fantasy-drama series Once Upon a Time features a fictionalized version of the sculpture. Filming for the series took place in Vancouver, Canada, as such, a replica of the sculpture was built for the show. In the season's fourteenth episode, "The Girl in the Tower", a backstory for the sculpture is revealed, which includes references to the 1982 children's book The BFG.[19]


  1. ^ Kirby, Doug. "The Fremont Troll, Seattle, Washington". Roadside America. Roadside America (book series). Archived from the original on 2011-04-22. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
  2. ^ Golden, Hallie (2019-06-04). "How the Fremont Troll became a symbol of creative resilience in a tech boomtown". Curbed Seattle. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  3. ^ Henderson, Diedtra (February 22, 1991). "Hideous Times For Fremont Troll -- Vandals Damaging Under-Bridge Sculpture | The Seattle Times". Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  4. ^ Allen, Rebeccah (January 4, 2011). "Sculptural Seattle". The Orange County Register. Santa Ana, CA: Terry Horne. ISSN 0886-4934. OCLC 12199155. Archived from the original on 2011-01-22. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  5. ^ "A Toll For The Troll; Artists Sue Business For Using Sculpture". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington: William Stacey Cowles. August 16, 1996. p. 13. ISSN 1064-7317. OCLC 11102610. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  6. ^ "Fremont Troll". Fremont Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 2011-04-06. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
  7. ^ a b Lacitis, Erik (May 30, 2004). "Artist was trolling for icon status when he created Fremont Troll". Seattle Times.
  8. ^ Nelson, Robert T. (September 30, 1990). "Stuff Of Legends: Fremont Erecting Funky Troll Sculpture". Seattle Times.
  9. ^ "Fremont Troll Gets The Light Of His Life". Seattle Times. March 5, 1991.
  10. ^ Henderson, Diedtra (February 22, 1991). "Hideous Times For Fremont Troll -- Vandals Damaging Under-Bridge Sculpture". Seattle Times.
  11. ^ Lacitis, Erik (September 11, 2021). "Painting over Seattle's graffiti is a game of whack-a-mole. The taggers have won". Seattle Times.
  12. ^ Davila, Vianna (March 23, 2019). "City removes homeless camp near Seattle's Fremont Troll that was site of overdoses". Seattle Times.
  13. ^ Boiko-Weyrauch, Anna (August 7, 2019). "Photos of 'needles' sent to Seattle's Find It Fix It app. (Spoiler: many aren't needles)". KUOW.
  14. ^ Gilmore, Susan (July 9, 2005). "Street may be rechristened for Fremont Troll". The Seattle Times. Seattle, Washington: Frank A. Blethen. ISSN 0745-9696. OCLC 9198928. Archived from the original on 2009-09-19. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  15. ^ "The Fremont Troll becomes a Chia pet". Seattle's Big Blog. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  16. ^ Harms, Shane (April 19, 2016). "Chicago band releases songs inspired by Ballard and Fremont". Ballard News Tribune.
  17. ^ Kirby, Lindsay (7 May 2016). "Majungas Sing A Song For The Fremont Troll". Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  18. ^ "Meet Buoy, New Mascot of Seattle Kraken",, 2 October 2022
  19. ^ Mangione, Nick (March 24, 2018), "Once Upon a Time Builds Fun Lore Around a Seattle Landmark",, archived from the original on August 2, 2019, retrieved August 2, 2019

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