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Fremont Troll

Coordinates: 47°39′03″N 122°20′50″W / 47.650955°N 122.34728°W / 47.650955; -122.34728 (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)
Coordinates47°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.[5][citation needed][6] 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.[7] Postcards, beer, and other products approved by the artists are commercially available, and use is free to non-profit organizations.[8]


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.[9] 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, urbanizing the largely residential neighborhood.[10]

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,[11] as well as the continued dumping of trash around it by homeless people who used to live there.[12] Despite the intent of the arts council, the sculpture has periodically been the target of vandalism,[9] although local activists have made efforts to clean graffiti on a regular basis,[13] and the city of Seattle has swept homeless encampments adjacent to the sculpture following repeated drug overdoses in January 2019;[14] from January to mid-May alone, the city received 28 complaints about needles or homelessness within a block of the sculpture.[15]

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.[16] In 2011 the Fremont Arts Council licensed a Chia Pet based on the Fremont Troll that was sold at a local drug store chain.[17]>

The stairway leading to the top of the sculpture was rebuilt in September 2023 using funds from the Move Seattle levy; the Troll is planned to be surrounded by more vegetation planted by volunteers the following month.[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.[citation needed]

The 2015 video game Life is Strange features the Fremont Troll partway through the first episode, in which the player can find a picture of the protagonist, Max, and two of her friends from her time living in Seattle, climbing on the sculpture.[19]

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.[20] In 2016, the Chicago rock band Majungas released "The Fremont Troll" off their Seattle Rock album.[21][22]

In 2022, the Seattle Kraken introduced Buoy, a mascot said to be the Fremont Troll's nephew.[23]


  1. ^ Kirby, Doug. "The Fremont Troll, Seattle, Washington". Roadside America. Roadside America (book series). Archived from the original on April 22, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
  2. ^ Golden, Hallie (June 4, 2019). "How the Fremont Troll became a symbol of creative resilience in a tech boomtown". Curbed Seattle. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  3. ^ Henderson, Diedtra (February 22, 1991). "Hideous Times For Fremont Troll -- Vandals Damaging Under-Bridge Sculpture | The Seattle Times". archive.seattletimes.com. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  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 January 22, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  5. ^ Nelson, Robert T. (September 30, 1990). "Stuff of Legends: Fremont erecting funky troll sculpture". The Seattle Times/Seattle Post-Intelligencer. pp. B6. Archived from the original on October 26, 2023. Retrieved October 3, 2023.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Angelos, Constantine (December 10, 1990). "Monstruous New Fun in Fremont". The Seattle Times. pp. E3. Retrieved October 3, 2023.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "Fremont Troll". fremont.com. Fremont Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on April 6, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Lacitis, Erik (May 30, 2004). "Artist was trolling for icon status when he created Fremont Troll". Seattle Times.
  10. ^ Nelson, Robert T. (September 30, 1990). "Stuff Of Legends: Fremont Erecting Funky Troll Sculpture". Seattle Times.
  11. ^ "Fremont Troll Gets The Light Of His Life". Seattle Times. March 5, 1991.
  12. ^ Henderson, Diedtra (February 22, 1991). "Hideous Times For Fremont Troll -- Vandals Damaging Under-Bridge Sculpture". Seattle Times.
  13. ^ Lacitis, Erik (September 11, 2021). "Painting over Seattle's graffiti is a game of whack-a-mole. The taggers have won". Seattle Times.
  14. ^ Davila, Vianna (March 23, 2019). "City removes homeless camp near Seattle's Fremont Troll that was site of overdoses". Seattle Times.
  15. ^ Boiko-Weyrauch, Anna (August 7, 2019). "Photos of 'needles' sent to Seattle's Find It Fix It app. (Spoiler: many aren't needles)". KUOW.
  16. ^ 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 September 19, 2009. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  17. ^ "The Fremont Troll becomes a Chia pet". Seattle's Big Blog. October 19, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Baruchman, Michelle (September 26, 2023). "This feature at Seattle's Fremont Troll just got a makeover". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 27, 2023.
  19. ^ Life is Strange, Episode 1, "Chrysalis," Directed by Raoul Barbet and Michael Koch, written by Christian Divine, Jean-Luc Cano, and Raoul Barbet, Featuring Hannah Telle, Ashly Burch, and Nik Shriner, released January 29, 2015.
  20. ^ Mangione, Nick (March 24, 2018), "Once Upon a Time Builds Fun Lore Around a Seattle Landmark", Geek.com, archived from the original on August 2, 2019, retrieved August 2, 2019
  21. ^ Harms, Shane (April 19, 2016). "Chicago band releases songs inspired by Ballard and Fremont". Ballard News Tribune. Archived from the original on November 20, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  22. ^ Kirby, Lindsay (May 7, 2016). "Majungas Sing A Song For The Fremont Troll". www.fremocentrist.com. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  23. ^ "Meet Buoy, New Mascot of Seattle Kraken", Kiro7.com, October 2, 2022

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